Crime scene [illustrative].
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Within a matter of hours on Saturday, two young men in Umm el-Fahm were shot dead in separate shootings in the crime-ridden Arab city in the Wadi Ara region.
In the first incident, around 5 p.m. police received a call about a man suffering from gunshot wounds in the city’s Al-Bir neighborhood. The victim, later named as Muhammad Agbariya, 26, was taken to Emek Medical Center in Afula, where he later died of his wounds.
Around two hours later, Hussein Mahajna, 27, was found shot in the city, and was also rushed in critical condition to the Emek Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Both murders are being investigated by the Coastal District’s central investigative unit.
The Coastal District police spokesman said that both victims were known to police and that detectives have not ruled out a connection between the two murders. The spokesman added that no arrests have been made, and that due to a gag order on the case, police cannot provide details about how the murders were carried out, and if the shooters arrived on foot or by vehicle.
The murders are the latest in a city that – like communities across the Arab sector – has for years suffered from a disproportionately high rate of violent crime.
Earlier this month, the Israel Police appointed a Muslim officer – Jamal Hachrush – to the rank of assistant-chief, the second highest on the force and the highest rank ever held by a Muslim.
Hachrush will be tasked with running a new branch of the police that will deal specifically with the problems facing the Arab public. The branch, which has yet to be launched, is part of a multiyear multi-billion shekel plan by police to open 10 new police stations in Arab communities and to recruit 1,300 more Arab police officers.
Hachrush’s promotion was first announced by Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich during a Knesset committee meeting in February, in which he said crime in the Arab sector is unacceptable and a source of great suffering for everyday citizens.
He also presented figures that illustrate the disproportionately high crime create among Arab Israelis, who make up about 21 percent of the population but account for 59% of murders and 32% of property crimes.
Their communities are also overrun by illegal firearms – which, while expensive, are widely available on the black market – and plagued by family disputes, organized crime, and the drug trade.