Bloody weekend for crime-plagued Israeli Arab towns

Jerusalem, Sept 21 (AFP/APP):Israeli police Saturday were probing four shooting deaths within 24 hours in Arab Israeli towns, following elections in which Arab candidates said violent crime was a top campaign issue.

Police said that at around midnight in the Bedouin town of Basmat Tabun, northwest of Nazareth, two residents were shot dead and a third badly wounded in what was believed to be part of a dispute between local families.

“Police are investigating the circumstances,” a police statement said without giving details.

Maariv newspaper, quoting witnesses, said a young man had burst into a wedding party and opened fire at guests.

In another incident, police said a 38-year-old man was shot dead Friday while driving near the small Arab town of Yasif, likewise in northern Israel.

Also on Friday, police reported a man in his 30s found shot dead in a car in the village of Musmus, about 30 miles (48 kilometres) away.

Police gave no further information and a court order barred publication of details of both the Musmus and Yasif killings.

Israel’s Arab parties, running under a Joint List alliance, emerged from Tuesday’s general election as an important force.

Provisional official results gave them 13 seats — the third-largest in Israel’s 120 member parliament, ahead of final results to be announced on Wednesday.

Joint List leader Ayman Odeh tweeted on Saturday that addressing the violence endemic in many Israeli Arab communities would be his top priority.

“The elections are over but the crime epidemic in Arab society continues,” he wrote. “Four people murdered within 24 hours.”

“This is the first issue we will address. We have no choice but to bring security back to the streets and live in an arms-free society.”

Police on Saturday reported another overnight shooting incident, although without fatalities, in the northern Bedouin village of Kammaneh.

“Police carrying out an operation in Kammaneh before dawn came under fire and one officer was slightly wounded,” a statement said, adding that four suspects were arrested.

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