Arab community in Israel are victims of extreme gun violence

Israel

Israel IsraelAmmar, a three year old boy belonging to the Arab community in Israel was killed by a stray bullet while he was playing in a playground. The family is grieving, angry and trying to make a sense of what happened to the little boy whose life ended abruptly. “The police don’t care what happens to Palestinians so [the gangs] know they can kill children while they are playing and nothing will happen. We are so angry,” said Ammar’s cousin, Imam, as she sat with his mother, Aisha who cannot stop crying longing for her son.

This is just another name to the long list of names who have succumbed the increasing “gun violence epidemic” that is taking a toll on Israel’s Arab community. Last year 127 people had lost their lives as these numbers are constantly on a rise since 2013. Illegal firearms on streets of Israel are on a rise with alleged large scale smuggling happening over the Jordanian border.

According to experts, “gang violence means people in Israel’s 2-million-strong Arab minority are far more likely to be killed by fellow Arabs than Palestinians in the West Bank are by Israeli security forces.” Out of Israel’s population of 9 million people, 20 per cent identify as Arab, including Bedouin and Druze as well as Muslim and Christian Palestinians.

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On paper they are given the same civil and political rights as Jewish citizens but in reality, these communities are victims of severe institutionalized discrimination. “Most of this community was badly affected in 1948 [after the war surrounding Israel’s creation]. People were displaced, thrown into poverty. They had to start all over again, so of course there is crime,” said Fida Sh’hade, a local council member in Lod.

A hope has risen for the Arab community as Israel’s new coalition government has included Arab party for the first time. The party has made a promise to combat crime against the Arab community and has budgeted 1 bn shekels to establish more police stations in Arab towns and also a special unit that has been dedicated to affairs of Arab community.

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