Two Palestinian citizens of Israel killed, including Nazareth official's son, as murder rates spike

Two Palestinian citizens of Israel killed, including Nazareth official's son, as murder rates spike
Palestinian activists and experts have repeatedly accused the Israeli government and police forces of neglecting their communities, which has prompted the rise in gun crime.
3 min read
31 March, 2023
Palestinian citizens of Israel have made repeated demands for the Israeli government to help tackle gun violence in the Arab community [Getty]

Two Palestinian-Israeli men were killed in two separate incidents this week in the Israeli cities of Nazareth and Jaljuya, both of which boast significant Palestinian populations.

Rouad Ouiasi, the 25-year-old son of Nazareth's deputy mayor, was killed in the early hours of Thursday morning in an alleged underworld murder, reported Haaretz.

Ouiasi was rushed to hospital in the aftermath of the incident but pronounced dead soon after.

The 25-year-old’s killing came shortly after another Palestinian man - Idris Odeh - was shot at point-blank range and killed by unidentified masked gunmen in another gruesome incident in Israel.

At least 41 Palestinian citizens of Israel have been murdered so far this year, while 111 were killed in 2022, according to statistics.

Experts say that the increase in gun ownership and subsequent gun crime in Palestinian communities is due to the neglect of the Israeli government and a lack of police presence in affected neighbourhoods.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the special police unit assigned to help combat murder in 1948 Palestinian areas would be dismantled.

The announcement is largely viewed as a "punishment" for community leaders' refusal to work with Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

The lawmaker, who is the leader of the anti-Arab and Kahanist Otzma Yehudit political party, is infamous for making racist and xenophobic comments about Palestinians.

Moreover, many police sources, as cited by Haaretz, said the shutting down of the department is also due to Ben-Gvir's "apathy" towards the Arab community.

"The Arab community doesn’t interest Minister Ben-Gvir," stated Murad Amash, the mayor of Jisr Al-Zarqa. "He wants to crush us. Even if the entire Arab community in Israel died, it wouldn't interest him".

"He's here to impose order - which means taking revenge on the Arab community. This doesn't mesh with any kind of desire to fight crime," he added to the Israeli daily.

However, police inaction regarding the surge in crime in Israel's Palestinian Arab communities is not a new phenomenon.

Live Story

Palestinian activists have long protested against Israeli police's indifference towards gun violence that has plagued the community for years, and have called for change. 

Moreover, Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset have slammed the government's failure to help reduce murder rates in the country's Palestinian communities.

Activists have repeatedly accused the Israeli government and police of neglecting and abandoning their neighbourhoods which have seen an uptick in criminal and gang activity in recent years.

Palestinians make up 20 percent of Israel's population but account for over 60 percent of murder victims nationwide.

A parliamentary report from August 2021 revealed that Palestinian-Israeli men over the age of 25 are 36 times more likely to fall victim to gun violence, compared to their Jewish counterparts.

Moreover, Palestinian citizens of Israel are often demoted to second-class status in the country as they face systematic discrimination and marginalisation in many aspects of everyday life, such as employment, housing, and education.