Palestinian family of five shot dead as crime soars in Israel

Palestinian citizens of Israel protest over the spiraling rate of violent crime in their communities, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, August 6, 2023. (Photo/AP)

Five members of a Palestinian family were shot dead in their home in Israel, police have said, in the latest in a wave of crime-related killings in Israel's Palestinian communities that has reached a new peak this year.

The Abraham Initiatives, a Jewish-Arab advocacy and monitoring group in Israel, identified the victims as a Palestinian couple and their three children.

The shooting of the family in the northern town of Basmat Tab'un followed a separate incident in which a 50-year-old man was killed earlier on Wednesday.

More than 180 Palestinian citizens in Israel have been killed in crime-related violence since January - a seven-year high - in a spate of killings that have continued unchecked, drawing accusations that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right government was ignoring the bloodshed.

"Israel has the abilities. The Israeli government understands what needs to be done. Everybody understands what needs to be done. There simply is no will and no leadership," said Mansour Abbas, leader of the Ra'am party, one of the parties that represent Israel's Palestinian minority.

Palestinian mayors have accused the government and police of deliberately neglecting their communities and of enabling criminals to act with impunity.

Netanyahu blamed

They have refused to work with the far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has past convictions of support for terrorism and anti-Palestinian incitement, and have demanded that Netanyahu intervene instead.

Lawmakers also expressed deep concern over the violence and demanded government intervention.

"The blood of those murdered today in the massacre are on the hands (of Ben-Gvir) and Prime Minister Netanyahu," said Ahmad Tibi, chairman of the Ta'al party and a Palestinian member of Israel's parliament, urging Netanyahu to convene a meeting on crime in Palestinian communities “as it did for Jewish communities years ago.”

Experts say gangs in Palestinian communities have amassed large quantities of illegal weapons over the past two decades and are involved in drug and other crimes.

Second-class citizens

According to the Abraham Initiatives, less than 10 percent of crime-related cases in Palestinian communities have been solved this year.

The group describes the surge in violence as a symptom of both police indifference and Palestinian distrust of the police.

With Israel facing its worst political crisis in decades over the Netanyahu-led government's drive to push through a judicial overhaul, Palestinian citizens say that the collapse of personal safety in their communities must receive more government attention.

Ben-Gvir, who did not immediately comment on Wednesday's incident, has rejected accusations of inaction. He has said fighting crime is high on his agenda and that police have stepped up crime-busting activity, including the seizure of weapons and funds from criminal groups.

"As police, we will do everything to get to the killers," police spokesman Eli Levi told reporters at the scene of Wednesday's crime.

Palestinian citizens of Israel, descendants of Palestinians who stayed on their land after the establishment of Israel in 1948, comprise around 20 percent of the country's 9.7 million population.

They have for decades faced high poverty rates, poorly funded schools and overcrowded towns lacking services and say they are treated as second-class citizens compared with Jewish Israelis.


Source: TRT