On June 8th, 5 individuals were killed in Yaffa An-Nassriye, a village neighboring Nazareth. Simultaneously, a senseless act of violence unfolded in Kafr Kana, less than 10 km away, wounding a three-year-old girl and a 30-year-old man. This follows a homicide in Nazareth yesterday.
Four hours before the violent incident in Yaffa An-Nassriye, the Mossawa Center organized a volunteering event as part of its “Giving Week“ activities in a school around the same area where the incident occurred.
The Mossawa Center holds the Israeli government responsible for the almost 100 Palestinian Arab citizens who were killed by organized crime this year.
One of the key factors contributing to the rise of organized crime and violence is the prevalence of illegal gun ownership. It is widely acknowledged that high rates of illicit gun ownership contribute to the organized crime rates within the Palestinian Arab community in the country. Criminal organizations get these firearms through smuggling, theft, and illegal trade, perpetuating a cycle of violence and terror. Many of these illegal firearms are being smuggled in from the Israeli Security Forces.
The Mossawa Center firmly places the responsibility for these tragic losses on the Israeli government. We assert that the government's efforts to combat organized crime have fallen short, leaving Palestinian Arab citizens vulnerable to violence and crime. The Mossawa Center calls on the government to take immediate and decisive action to address the root causes of organized crime, with a particular focus on Palestinian Arab communities.
The Mossawa Center recently concluded its EU delegation, where the issue of violence within the Palestinian Arab community was raised at meetings with EU representatives and European diplomats. Mossawa Center representatives explained that the high rate of violence and prevalence of organized crime in the Palestinian Arab community is due to deliberate neglect by the Israeli government. Deliberate lack of funding allocated from the Ministry of Education for Palestinian Arab society has led to thousands of students dropping out of the education system without proper training - many of those students getting involved in organized crime. Inequitable funding for the Palestinian Arab community in the state budget perpetuates poverty in the community which pushes individuals into the world of organized crime. The lack of financial infrastructure in terms of bank loans available for the community has forced many businesses and individuals to seek loans on the black market, which severely exacerbated racketeering.
The Mossawa Center warned that the Israeli government has pushed policies that allow for the proliferation of illegal weapons and crime organizations in the Palestinian Arab community. The current far-right government risks replicating the May 2021 events by provoking the Palestinian Arab community into another wave of mass protests. The far-right government’s unwillingness to crack down on organized violence and continued disregard for illicit weapons trafficking demonstrates their desire to increase violent clashes between Jewish and Palestinian Arab communities. This would allow justification for a violent crackdown on Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel that would resemble the raids of the Israeli military on Nablus and Jenin Refugee Camp in recent months. Citing security concerns, the government would enact policies and legislation that would render entire swaths of Palestinian Arab society illegitimate and “illegal” due to “security threats” including political parties, civil society organizations, and more. The Israeli government would leverage such a situation to create public legitimacy among Jewish-Israelis for a violent, armed confrontation against the Palestinian Arab community in Israel. Essentially, Palestinian Arab citizens would be at risk of returning to a state that resembles martial law like they did in the first 20 years following the establishment of the State of Israel. This is all in an effort to cement their far-right rule over the country for decades to come.
The Mossawa Center calls on the international community to exert political and diplomatic pressure on the Israeli government to end its discriminatory and negligent policies towards the Palestinian Arab community that perpetuate the cycle of bloodshed for political goals. The Israeli government must not simply reduce violence within the Palestinian Arab community but address the root causes of poverty that cause internal violence in the first place. We can't afford to wait any longer. It's time to act.