Geneva - Euro-Med Monitor expresses grave concern over the high rate of murders and internal violence in the Palestinian Arab community within Israel. The increase in violence appears to be due to Israeli policies that may be deliberate and reflect the Israeli authorities’ double standards and apartheid system, Euro-Med Monitor said in a statement.

On Tuesday, 26 July, two shooting incidents took place in the town of Isfiya in northern Israel and the city of Lod in central Israel. Both incidents were within the Arab community and resulted in the deaths of two people, including one woman.

The victim of the shooting in Lod was thirty-year-old Rabab Abu Siam, a mother of three and separated from her husband. The victim had reported to the Israeli police that she had been subjected to multiple death threats, yet she remained unprotected.

According to Abu Siam’s family, an armed and masked person stormed the victim’s yard and shot her with six bullets, three of which were in the head, in front of her two-year-old daughter. The victim’s mother tried to protect her, but the assailant pushed her hard to the ground.

   The analysis of murder incidents and their steady rise in recent years indicates the existence of an Israeli policy that perpetuates impunity   

The victim was a schoolteacher in Lod. She was forced to quit her job and move to the Negev region in southern Israel due to the death threats, but she returned to Lod a few days ago just to be shot dead in her yard on Ben Yehuda Street.

Surveillance cameras documented the murder, in which a white car stopped in front of Abu Siam's house; an individual got out of the car, shot the victim, then returned to the car and fled the scene.

The data provided by the family confirm that the Israeli police were negligent in dealing with the threats against the victim. They did not provide her with protection despite their knowledge of the high severity of the threats to the extent that prompted them to warn her father about these dangers. The Israeli police did not take any concrete steps to protect Abu Siam or pursue whoever threatened her until the crime was committed.

The killing of Abu Siam was preceded by the death of 45-year-old Joseph Rouhana, who was seriously injured after being shot in the Bedouin neighbourhood of the town of Isfiya in northern Israel while driving his vehicle. The circumstances of the crime are still unclear.

The Israeli police merely made a brief statement announcing the start of “the search for suspects, in addition to collecting evidence at the scene of the accident from military police investigators.”

The two killings are not isolated from the escalation of murders and internal violence in the Palestinian Arab community in Israel. As of the date of this statement, July witnessed the killing of 15 people, while last June witnessed the killing of 14.

According to local data, the number of murder victims in the Arab community has increased to 62 since the beginning of this year, reflecting the high rates of murders in the community. Last year, the victims reached 126, including 16 women, noting that this statistic does not include the crimes that took place in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

The analysis of murder incidents and their steady rise in recent years indicates the existence of an Israeli policy that perpetuates impunity and encourages the perpetration of such crimes, which are often committed with no one to hold accountable.

The same data after each crime indicates the failure of the Israeli police to solve the murders or dismantle organized crime in the Arab community. While the police say they investigate all killings, they often come to no conclusion and file most crime cases against persons unknown.

The causes and pretexts of the killing are diverse. Some are related to social issues and personal and financial disputes, and many come as a result of conflict or attacks carried out by organized criminal gangs that have weapons easily available to them through Israeli actors.

In its research into these crimes, Euro-Med Monitor concluded that there is a duplicity in dealing with the spread of weapons in the Arab community. The Israeli authorities turn a blind eye to weapons reaching criminal groups, but launch campaigns of arrest and confiscation in some areas of the Arab community because they estimate that these weapons can be used to stir up the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The duplicity extends to the police’s methodology in investigating such crimes. While most murder cases in the Jewish community get solved with a percentage of no less than 70%, 80% of murder cases in the Arab community remain unsolved. This indicates that Israel treats Arab Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship as second-class citizens.

Euro-Med Monitor voiced concern over serious indications of the possibility of an official and systematic Israeli policy that fuels and spreads internal violence in the Arab community in Israel to weaken and dismantle it.

The widespread unemployment among young people and the spread of drugs are additional factors that fuel internal violence and increase murders in the absence of awareness programs and unified leadership of the Arab community.

The actors in the Arab community should carry out effective activities to raise societal awareness of the dangers of murder, internal violence, and all manifestations of the violation of the right to life.

As an occupying power, the Israeli authorities should assume their legal responsibilities, conduct serious investigations into the murders, and stop fueling internal violence and protecting criminal gangs.

The international community should pressure Israel to stop the policy of double standards and the apartheid system that it practices against the Arab community in Israel.

Euro-Med Monitor stressed the need for an independent investigation, supervised by the United Nations, to verify the Israeli role in the prevalence of murders in the Arab community, where the death toll has reached about 1,800 victims since 2000.