Many Israeli Bedouins serve in the IDF and are loyal to Israel
Many Israeli Bedouins serve in the IDF and are loyal to IsraelGadi Yampel/Flash 90

Leaders of the Bedouin community in Israel vociferously condemned the terror attack carried out in Be'er Sheva by one of their own, 21-year-old Muhaned Al-Okabi. At a press conference Monday, the leaders said that they were “saddened and shocked” by the attacks.

We woke up this morning to some bitter news, and I want to absolutely condemn this terrible act,” said Rahat Mayor Talal Al-Krenawi of Sunday's attack. “This is unacceptable and we totally reject such acts against innocent civilians. We are citizens of Israel, and we see ourselves as a bridge to peace.

"Bedouin have never been a part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We believe in law and order, and we live side by side with Jews everywhere, working, studying and playing together. We will not allow this action to ruin those relations.”

Former MK Taleb a-Sana also spoke out against the attack. “We gathered at this press conference because we feel a responsibility to take a clear stand, without any confusion. We thoroughly condemn this action. It is the act of an individual. We are a part of you. The terrorist's actions are not our way, and we beg you not to smear all the Bedouin with the paint brush that this terrorist has colored. We all know about the political dispute, but this is not our way to solve it, even though it is hard for us as Bedouin when our nation fights our Arab nation. But we will not allow this to ruin the good relations that thrive in the Negev.”

Al-Okabi was a resident of Hura, and that town's mayor, Mohammed Nabari, also spoke out against the attack. “Together, all of us who are mayors and officials of Bedouin towns here in the Negev have gathered to condemn a terror attack, which we do clearly and loudly.

"Our challenge is to lead this nation to coexistence and a shared life. Here in the Negev we Bedouin are a third of the population, and we have a lot of influence. Everyone knows the problems our sector has – such as the lack of hope among youth that could lead to a catastrophic result – but we will do our best to lead locally and nationally to improve the quality of life, so that people will realize that if they do extreme things, they will have something to lose.”

Earlier, Alkarinawi told Channel 2 Online that the Al-Okabi family is "well known, and not known as a family that encourages terrorism."

"The former head of their family, Sheikh Al-Okabi, assisted in the creation of the state [of Israel]," he added. "That is why we are even more shocked. We are really unable to fathom this."

Alkarinawi said that Jews and Bedouins coexist "like brothers" in the Negev. "We are not part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Kassem Abu Sirhan, Deputy Head of the Tel Sheva Council, told Channel 2 Online that he is "certain that this was a decision by a solitary person" who came from "a family that is definitely good."