Hamada Salem: A teacher murdered because of a tattoo

Over 100 Arabs have been murdered in Israel in 2023 in a deadly wave of crime that police are struggling to get under control.

The scene where Hamada Salem was murdered in Acre in May. (photo credit: MAGEN DAVID ADOM)
The scene where Hamada Salem was murdered in Acre in May.
(photo credit: MAGEN DAVID ADOM)

Yosef Salem from Acre, whose 24-year-old son Hamada Salem was murdered last month in front of the building where his family lives, addressed the wave of crime in the Arab sector on Saturday, stating "As soon as we reach a situation like this, then our government has failed and should draw conclusions and resign. Everyone should go home. The prime minister, the national security minister, the police chief - everyone. They are responsible for the security of the citizens. Security is not only against those across the border. First of all, comes our internal security."

"Hamada was seemingly being watched," Yosef said in an interview he gave to Walla in light of 100 people being murdered in the Arab sector since the beginning of the year.

"He entered the corner parking spot that was reserved for him in the parking lot of our building. He turned off the car and then two or three guys surrounded him, they shot him, then ensured that he was dead and left in a getaway car. They described to me the video that recorded all of this, but I didn't want to see it. I'm also a father and I have feelings and I didn't want to develop feelings of revenge, because I believe in the rule of law. But a failed government puts people in a vortex of revenge."

Who was Hamada Salem?

Hamada Salem, a physical education teacher, grew up as a normative and happy child in a healthy home. His father, Yosef Salem, is working on his doctorate.

 ACRE HARBOR (credit: Wikimedia Commons)
ACRE HARBOR (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Hamada graduated from Katznelson High School in Nahariya and then studied at the Galilee Academic College and completed an internship in teaching physical education at the Wingate Institute.

Hamada had already finished his internship as a teacher for children from 2nd to 9th grade that he did at the Katznelson school, and the Wingate graduation certificate, which he was supposed to receive next week, arrived to his parents after his death. Dozens of letters from his students were sent to his parents, who are going to include them in a book they are producing in his memory.

"Innocent students, free of politics and racism, tell wonderful things about my son, as a teacher, as a guide, as a coach, that even I didn't know," says his father. "He was a 25-year-old young man, smiling, assertive, a sports fan, he was a football player in Beitar Nahariya. He was known in the team as a leading player."

Hamada was the oldest in the family, his oldest sister is a doctor, his brother is a taxi driver. The family is originally from the old city of Acre, which they left after they got married to improve their living conditions.

"When he finished high school, and before he entered the university, he worked in a clothing store and knew people we knew from the past when we lived in the old city. Among them, there was a former student of mine named Hosni Rubai, a very respected student," said Salem's father, explaining how his son became a target. "They went to Thailand together, celebrated and took pictures. Three years later this guy was murdered. Hamada tattooed his picture and the date of the murder on his arm. That's how Hamada was marked by another group that killed Hosni. It's no secret that Acre became a battlefield between two families and because of the friendship, Hamada got pulled into this vortex as a target."

"The police officers who came here cried with us. They have no tools and no ability. I have to help them locate where there are cameras? To draw conclusions? I really feel sorry for them," added Salem's father.

"We live within a single political framework called the State of Israel, and the sovereign has the authority and governmental responsibility to protect its citizens. I do not say this as a parent, but as a teacher who is the father of a teacher, who unfortunately was murdered. I call on all ranks from the prime minister on down to resign because of the situation we have reached. Any normal country would not tolerate such violence. A prime minister is not an actor who is asked to appear in English in the international media. A prime minister should first of all be a father to his citizens. A good father does not dress in suits and go out partying with friends. A good father first of all feeds and protects his children. If a prime minister does not take care of this, he has no legitimacy to continue to sit in power."

"Those who murdered my son are also unfortunate," said the bereaved father. "They are the result of unequal racist policies in education, in employment, of inaction, of a lack of outline plans and industrial zones, of illegal weapons and the failure of law enforcement. We no longer believe in our ability to influence here in Israel. We have come to a situation where we need to raise a cry to the international community so that it will come and protect us. It's a big disgrace to the country what's happening here. Look in Dubai how they caught the people in a few hours."

"It's not 'just' a circle of blood spilling," added Salem. "This circle will break out and reach Jewish society. This is a civil war and they will kill on another. The media also has a responsibility, as soon as they say 'known to the police' then they block the others from coming and joining us in a democratic struggle to expose the failures of this government in its policies and to influence it to stand up and act according to its responsibilities."

"We are publishing a book about [Hamada] in Hebrew, addressed to Jewish society and it is called 'Hamada, my teacher, was murdered - why?', so that every citizen of Israel will ask this question. Was he murdered because there is violence in our society, even though we do not see such a level of violence in Jordan or in the Palestinian Authority? Is it because we live at a low socioeconomic level? Is it because of policy? Because if it is because of policy, then we live under a racist policy, a policy that wants to lead good people to emigrate from here. Also Hamada, who was going to leave this summer, and who I helped with my connections in Germany, was supposed to start working already in August."