Rahat: Two feuding clans cause massive riots, houses burnt, cops injured

Security forces evacuated 11 people from their houses after they were torched on Friday, seven police officers were injured due to fires.

A bullet hole in the car of the mayor of Rahat Faiz Abu Sahiban   (photo credit: Courtesy)
A bullet hole in the car of the mayor of Rahat Faiz Abu Sahiban
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A massive riot broke out in the Bedouin city of Rahat in the South of the country on Friday evening between two feuding clans, the Abu Sahiban clan and the Abu Ganim clan. The mayor of Rahat, Faiz, is of the Abu Sahiban clan. During the altercations, someone shot his car window and he shared the photo with members of the press adding that “I am healthy, thanks to all who care for my well being.”
A suspected arsonist was arrested by police after a fire damaged two houses with 11 people in them. Security forces rescued them, and five police officers were injured due to inhaling the smoke and taken to hospital in Beersheba. One officer was struck by a stone thrown at him.
The riots are alleged to be about land. Attempts to bring the dispute to an end by turning the lands into publicly held assets have not been successful.
A member of the Abu Sahiban clan was murdered recently, and the young members of the family are attempting to take matters into their own hands. Among Bedouins and some traditional Arabs, the practice of avenging insults and grievances is taken very seriously to uphold the concept of honor. The youths allegedly attempted to use firearms and arson to harm members of the other clan.
The mayor expressed hopes that “the elders will step in, as these are [people who had been] neighbors for over 40 years - and we hope it will end with no more bloodshed.”
A Rahat resident said that his children are terrified and he himself asked them to sleep under their beds so as not get hit by a stray bullet. “Not a week goes by without some violence,” he said, “I may lose my family because of these feuds.”
Another man said the shooting lasted for nearly three hours; a woman asked “until when will this violence go on?”