In light of Israeli negligence of organised crime among Arab communities in Israel, on Thursday unknown armed assailants shot and seriously wounded Suleiman Aghbariah, former mayor of Umm Al-Fahm, a major Arab city in central Israel.
Aghbariah was not only the former mayor of an Arab city, but a well-known politician and senior leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, which was banned in 2015.
In protest against the shooting, hundreds of protesters, Israeli media reported, rallied in front of the Israeli police station in the city and called for it to carry out its mission in fighting crime.
The Jerusalem Post reported the protesters raising placards reading “The Police is responsible for the violence and crime” and “Close the police station that isn’t helping in any way”.
Meanwhile, the Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen, an Umm Al-Fahm resident who lives close to the site of the shooting, tweeted: “No one is immune anymore to the murderous violence and the weapons flooding Arab society. This is an emergency. We’re living in a civil war.”
At the same time, The Times of Israel reported the current Umm Al-Fahm Mayor Samir Mahameed stating: “People don’t feel safe. We’re asking two things of the police – to prevent crime and to track down criminals. But they’re not able or willing to do either.”
Joint List Chairman MK Ayman Odeh was reported asserting: “There is no Arab citizen who is not exposed to the fatal threat posed by organised crime. The criminal indifference of the government is what allows them to destroy our society.”
Fatalities among the Arab community in Israel reached 96 in 2020, several sources reported, noting that three Arabs have so far been killed since the start of 2021.
Arabs in Israel blamed Israeli police for not carrying out their responsibilities in fighting organised crime in their communities, citing the massive number of illegal weapons owned by the criminals.
The Times of Israel said that numbers submitted to a Knesset committee on ending crime and violence in Arab Israeli society estimate that 400,000 illegal weapons are present among the community.
It cited a recent survey stating that around 52 per cent of Arabs in Israel referred to rising crime as the most pressing concern facing their community.
The newspaper reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office produced a plan to deal with the issue, but it has yet to be approved and funded. The newspaper mentioned previous similar plans by the government, stressing that they sat for years without ever receiving funding.
Netanyahu, in November, promised in a Knesset session to bring the plan to approval within weeks. However, The Times of Israel indicated that the plan has seemingly been shelved since Israel is heading towards fourth elections.
However, Wadi Ara’ara council Head Mudar Younes, who chairs a national committee of Arab mayors, was reported by The Times of Israel as stating: “There was a meeting last month with the team responsible for the plan. But it’s clear that the violence and insecurity in the Arab community is simply not a priority right now. It’s the government’s job to invest, to put in the money and make a decision to fight this. But there’s no decision.”