Two elderly Palestinian citizens of Israel shot dead as crime wave continues

Two elderly Palestinian citizens of Israel shot dead as crime wave continues
A wave of violent crime within Israel's Palestinian community has seen over 100 people killed in 2023 alone.
3 min read
26 June, 2023
Palestinians have blamed the Israeli police for not doing enough to help stop the violence [Getty/archive]

Two elderly Palestinian citizens of Israel were shot dead over the weekend in the north of Israel, the latest in a wave of violent crime sweeping the Palestinian community within Israel’s 1948 borders.

The two men were killed in the Palestinian village of Nahf in the Galilee, and were identified as 61-year-old Tariq Zarqawi, who hails from the Palestinian village of Majd al-Krum, and 71-year-old Lutfi Abbas Sarhan, from Nahf itself.

Sarhan’s 38-year-old son was also the victim of a deadly crime in 2021.

It was not clear how or why they were killed.

The killings came after demonstrators took to the streets of Haifa - which has a sizable Palestinian community - to protest the wave of deadly crime within Israel's Palestinian community.

Palestinian citizens of Israel make up 20 percent of the population within Israel's 1948 borders. They are the descendants of Palestinians who stayed on their land during the 1948 Nakba - the ethnic cleansing of Palestine which accompanied the creation of Israel.

They suffer from systematic discrimination in Israel and the Israeli police have been accused of turning a blind eye to crime in their community.

Since the start of this year alone, around 100 people have been killed as a result of violent crime within the Palestinian community in Israel, including six women and two children.

Palestinian Knesset member and head of the Balad party Sami Abou Shahadeh told The New Arab’s sister site that the Israeli authorities frequently trade accusations regarding the spread of crime.

"The Israeli occupation provides security and safety for the Jewish citizen only," he said to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

There have recently been proposals for the Israeli intelligence service Shin Bet to deal with the crime issue. Protestors however voiced opposition to this.

The head of the Higher Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, Mohammad Barakeh, said the Haifa demonstration clearly pointed the fingers at the "ruling establishment in Israel, as sponsors of terror in our Palestinian community, as well as sponsors of occupation and settler terrorism against our people in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem."

Israeli forces and settlers have killed around 180 Palestinians since the beginning of 2023 in the occupied territories and the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this month, the director of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency, Ronen Bar, warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office that plans to divert the organisation’s resources to fight crime among Palestinian citizens of Israel will have detrimental effects on "the fight against terrorism".

While Palestinian citizens of Israel feel that something must be done to address bias and indifference in Israeli policing as well as the discrimination that has allowed crime to flourish in their communities, there are also fears that crime could be used as a pretext by the far-right Israeli government to target them for political reasons and further erode their rights as citizens.