Geneva - Israeli authorities must take immediate and effective action to end the killings and violence that have reached unprecedented levels in Israel’s Arab community, said Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor in a statement.

Euro-Med Monitor expressed grave concern about Israeli authorities’ possible complicity in the ongoing systematic violations of the right to life and the threat to societal peace within Israel’s Arab community. The organisation cited an unprecedented increase in killings, while pointing to the existence of an Israeli policy that fosters impunity and encourages the commission of such crimes.

The most recent killings occurred on Tuesday evening, 22 August, in the northern Israeli town of Abu Snan, resulting in the deaths of four individuals ranging in age from 30 to 50 years old. One of these victims was Ghazi Saab, a candidate for the presidency of the town’s local council.

   The Israeli security services always announce the thwarting of dozens of nationally motivated attacks even before they occur, but the same services stand idly by and watch as violent crimes in Israel’s Arab community escalate   

Ramy Abdu, Chairman of Euro-Med Monitor

The Abu Snan incident occurred just one day after the killing of the Director General of the Tira Municipality, Abd al-Rahman Qashou, in a shooting in the city, which also injured others. The town of Kafr Qara, meanwhile, has recently witnessed the serious injury of a young woman by gunfire, and a young man was injured in a shooting in Rahat. With these crimes, the number of people killed in Israel’s Arab community since the start of this year has reached a new high of 147. Last year saw the killing of 109 individuals from the Arab community.

Killings in the Arab community occur regularly, with Israeli officials failing to do their jobs and eradicate organised crime, which may indicate Israeli security services’ complicity in such crimes or their support for criminal organisations. “It does not take much thought to notice the difference between Israeli security’s behaviour in investigating violent crimes in the Arab community and its behaviour in investigating incidents involving nationally motivated attacks; the results speak for themselves,” said Ramy Abdu, Chairman of Euro-Med Monitor.

“The Israeli security services always announce the thwarting of dozens of nationally motivated attacks even before they occur, but the same services stand idly by and watch as violent crimes in Israel’s Arab community escalate,” added Abdu. “The issue is never about capabilities, but rather about politics and a desire to perpetuate this dangerous situation.”

The similar findings following each crime point to the Israeli police’s failure to deal with murders or dismantle organised crime in the Arab community, leading residents of Abu Snan to protest against the Israeli police and accuse them of complicity in the killings.

The reasons and methods used to carry out the killings vary, but many are linked to conflicts between organised criminal gangs that have weapons readily available, raising questions about the motivations behind the Israeli security laxity. Euro-Med Monitor suggested that some of the recent crimes could be linked to the 2023 Israeli municipal elections, which are scheduled for the end of October.

A clear double standard is evident in Israel’s handling of the spread of arms in its Arab community, with Israeli authorities apparently ignoring the arrival of weapons to criminal organisations and gangs. Yet the moment that authorities suspect the weapons could be used in attacks on Israeli soldiers or settlers, they launch arrest and confiscation campaigns. This duplicity extends to the Israeli police’s blatant discrimination in dealing with homicide, with 70% of homicides in the Jewish community being solved, while approximately 80% of homicides in the Arab community remain unsolved. Figures plainly show that Israeli authorities treat Palestinian Arabs with Israeli citizenship as second-class citizens.

On Tuesday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement in which he affirmed the success of Israeli security forces in “eliminating organised crime in the Jewish community”. It is worth noting that the obtainment of weapons by Israeli Jews is legally facilitated, in contrast to the many legal constraints imposed by the authorities on the ability of Arabs to carry weapons in Israel.

Widespread youth unemployment and the growing prevalence of illicit drugs are additional factors fuelling internal violence and the increased killings, particularly in the absence of Arab community awareness programmes and unified leadership.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor emphasised the need for an independent investigation, overseen by the United Nations, to determine Israel’s role in the prevalence of killings in the Arab community, which has resulted in nearly 2,000 deaths since the year 2000.

Actors within the Arab community must carry out practical activities to raise social awareness of the killings, other forms of internal violence, and all other manifestations of violations of the right to life. Israel’s authorities must accept responsibility for the role that Israeli policies play in stoking internal violence, conduct prompt and thorough investigations into the killings, and refrain from protecting criminal gangs, with the aim of seeking justice for victims’ loved ones and preventing future incidents.