Spate of murders overnight highlight Arab sector crime

Three victims killed within matter of hours, highlighting problem of violent crime within Arab sector.

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David Rosenberg,

Crime scene
Crime scene
Flash 90

Terrorism aside, Israel has traditionally had relatively low rates of crime, with a murder rate significantly below that of the United States and on par with European countries like Belgium and Finland.

The one glaring exception to this rule, however, has been within the country’s Arab sector.

Poorly policed and often abandoned by Israeli authorities, many Arab communities are dominated by clans or extended families which are often involved in organized crime. Illegal weapons abound within the Arab sector, many of which are used by organized criminal gangs.

In February, Israel’s new police chief Roni Alsheikh pointed out the stark difference in crime rates between the Jewish and Arab sectors.

"According to police statistics, 21 percent of the Israeli population is Arab, however their involvement in criminal activities stands at 59 percent, which is an unprecedented statistic," he said.

A spate of murders overnight gave renewed scrutiny to calls made by Alsheikh and others, including Education Minister Naftali Bennett, for better policing of Arab towns.

“Our hope is,” said Alsheikh, "to get to the point where a father will be able to tell his daughter, 'call the police' and not where we currently are in which a father says, 'don't bother calling the police, it is a waste of time'".

A total of three murders took place overnight, an unusual spike in a country that averages some 2-3 murders over the course of a week.

The first victim was Hussein Kabalan, a 51-year old resident of Beit Jann, a predominantly Druze town near the Golan Heights.

Hours later a 31-year old man, was found shot to death in the village of Taibe. Shortly thereafter a man in his forties was shot and killed in his car near Tel Regev in northern Israel.

In late April, the Arab city of Umm Al-Fahm declared a general strike to protest a series of murders, claiming that Israeli police had effectively abandoned the Arab sector.

“The Arab public is on the brink of civil war,” Yousef Jabarin, an Umm Al-Fahm resident told Army Radio. "People in this city have thousands of illegal weapons, and as long as we turn them against each other and not outsiders, the police don't do enough to catch those responsible and bring them to justice." 

"If the weapons were used for terrorism, police would have gotten their hands on the perpetrators within hours," he added.