Large police force deployed in Rahat to prevent blood feud

Clashes are feared as relatives of accused murderer return to Negev city; police say their "prepared for any situation that could take place."

rahat city view 298 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
rahat city view 298 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Israel police have deployed reinforcements to the Beduin city of Rahat in the Negev, in order to prevent violent clashes from breaking out following the return this week of relatives of a local teen accused of killing a 17- year-old classmate in mid-February.
The Negev Region police said Sunday that Rahat police “are already prepared for any situation that could take place. Rahat is always a sensitive place, but police will assess the situation and won’t let events threaten the status quo.” Following the murder of Kayis Abu-Siam, whose beaten and charred body was discovered in an open area behind a gas station in Rahat, relatives of the two minor suspects began fleeing town in order to avoid the blood vendetta that Abu-Siam’s relatives vowed to carry out against them.
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In the wake of the murder, a number of houses belonging to the murder suspects’ families were torched and some of Abu-Siam’s relatives threatened to use lethal force to avenge the murder.
Rahat Mayor Faiz Abu Seheban said Sunday that police are out in the city in full force and that while he doesn’t believe the situation will decline into bloody clashes, “Rahat is a big place and anything could happen.” Abu Seheban said that the situation is still too early to hold a sulha, a ceremony in which accounts are settled through an arbitrator, and that at the moment, they are just trying to convince people to return to their normal lives in Rahat and avoid violence, and that the sulha will come at a later date.
Abu Seheban said that this situation is a bit unique because “usually when people leave town following something like this, we need to send out sheikhs to convince them to come back, but in this case about 20 out of the 30 people who left came back on their own all at once as a surprise.”
He added that the situation is still very sensitive in Rahat, but that some people have already returned to their homes and work, even before Sunday.
“Still, these people aren’t going out much or walking around, mainly staying around their house or at work. It’s kind of like a house arrest of sorts.”