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ALM Feature

With 71% spike, crime in Arab Israeli towns threatens local elections

Arab Israeli candidates for the municipal elections, set for the end of October, are dropping out of the race out of fear for their lives and the lives of their family members.
Arab Israeli mourners carry the casket of Abdelrahman Kashua

BAQA AL-GHARBIYYEH, Israel — The nationwide municipal elections scheduled for Oct. 31 have generated unprecedented threats and danger to Arab Israeli politicians, as organized crime families seek to gain a foothold in local politics and its lucrative jobs and contracts. 

The election campaign has also been a contributing factor to record-breaking crime among Israel’s 21% Arab minority, with the number of murders so far this year reaching 192 according to Haaretz count — compared with 112 in all of 2022, making it a 71.4% increase.

Just last Wednesday, five members of the same family were shot and killed Wednesday at their home in the Arab Israeli Basmat Tabun village. The police suspect this was a retaliatory act following the earlier killing of an Arab Israeli man in Haifa that same morning. The tragic events continued with two additional fatal shootings involving men in separate incidents within Arab localities on Thursday.

Mayoral candidates and serving officials in the country’s 85 local Arab councils are among the prominent recent victims of this crime wave. While threats against Arab candidates for local government have occurred in the past, the sheer number of threats and attacks in the past few months are staggering.

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