(photo credit: REUTERS)
A dispute between two families erupted into violence late Saturday night in the Beduin town of Kuseifa, east of Beersheba, resulting in the deaths of two men, aged 30 and 50.
Another 18 people were wounded, including two in critical condition with head injuries.
Police took two suspects into custody, and more arrests are expected.
According to police, violence broke out between members of the Amour and Dulam clans after members of one of the families “came with a car and apparently began to run over the other family’s members.” The two dead men were from the Amour family Police said they were holding talks with senior figures in the village, seeking “to restore quiet” in the community of some 20,000 people.
An eyewitness said Dulam clan members entered the neighborhood of the Amour family and threated to run over members. A large brawl developed.
The witness said two cars took part in the car-ramming.
“A vehicle arrived to the Amour neighborhood and fired a burst of gunfire into the air,” he said. “When [Amour] family members went outside and gathered in the area, another vehicle arrived and struck them intentionally.”
“It looked like the scene of a vehicular terrorist attack, and there was great commotion at the scene,” he added.
Senior Magen David Adom medic Yisrael Katz, who treated the wounded, said: “On the main road near the entrance to the village we removed the wounded with several vehicles... we evacuated them to the hospital while administering medical care when their condition went from fair to critical.”
Six of the wounded were admitted to Soroka-University Medical Center in Beersheba.
Kuseifa Mayor Salem Abu Rabia told Army Radio: “We announced a general strike of the community in solidarity with the families and protest against this behavior.”
Kuseifa “is one of the quietest Beduin communities, but unfortunately we have joined the not-so-honorable club of violence,” he said.
According to the Interagency Task Force on Israeli- Arab Issues, the Negev Beduin population, which numbers around 220,000, is characterized by extremely high unemployment and poverty rates.
The Israel Lands Authority projects the Negev Beduin population will reach 300,000 by 2020.