Clashes Rock Arab Town in Israel 12/04 08:44
UMM AL-FAHM, Israel (AP) -- Police on Friday shot and killed a man in an
Arab town in northern Israel who had allegedly been involved in a car-ramming
attack that wounded two officers, Israeli officials said.
The incident came after a round of violence among residents of Umm al-Fahm,
including armed clashes. On Thursday, a man was shot and killed in the town.
Israeli police and firefighters raced to the community as gunfire rang out and
buildings were set ablaze.
The chaos comes amid a wave of violent crime in Israel's Arab community that
shows no sign of abating, despite far-reaching action announced in recent
months by Israeli authorities.
Friday's incident began when paramilitary Border Police opened fire on a
vehicle speeding toward them, fatally shooting one man and wounding the other
in the car, who was arrested after receiving medical treatment, Border Police
said. They said the two officers suffered light to moderate wounds.
They said a gun and ammunition were found in the car, and that the two men
were suspected of involvement in violent family disputes that have rocked Umm
al-Fahm in recent months. Authorities said the car-ramming was not politically
Arab towns across Israel have seen a major escalation in violence in recent
years driven by organized crime and family feuds. At least 117 Arabs have been
killed in 2021, the highest number on record, according to the Abraham
Initiatives, which promotes Jewish-Arab coexistence. The crime rate among Arabs
far exceeds their 20% share of the population.
Arab citizens of Israel have the right to vote, most speak fluent Hebrew,
and they have a large presence in the country's universities and medical
profession. But they face widespread discrimination, especially with housing.
They have close familial ties to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and
Gaza, and largely identify with their cause, leading many Jewish Israelis to
view them with suspicion. Jewish-Arab violence erupted across Israel during the
Gaza war in May.
Arab activists have long accused police of ignoring crime in their
communities. Israeli officials have touted a number of initiatives in recent
years, including larger budgets for law enforcement in Arab communities, but
police say local leaders could do more to help them.
Israel's current government pledged major action against crime in Arab
communities in August as it announced a wave of arrests. That was a central
demand of a small party that made history this year by being the first Arab
faction to join a ruling coalition.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett expressed support for the police on
Friday, calling for improved security and further dialogue with Arab leaders.