Five members of the same family were shot dead overnight Thursday in the northern Bedouin village of Basmat Tab’un, bringing the death toll from crime in Israel’s Arab sector to a new high.
The family—a mother in her 40s with her 25-year-old son, nephews aged 15 and 17, and a relative in his late 40s—may have been targeted in retaliation for the killing of Atef Abu Kalib, a 50-year-old Haifa resident and junkyard owner, earlier in the day.
Two masked men gunned down Abu Kalib in broad daylight as he drove on a main Haifa street. The two assailants then escaped by car.
The Basmat Tab’un mass shooting is one of the “most abhorrent events we have ever encountered—a targeted elimination of an entire family that was apparently in response to a killing in Haifa this morning,” Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, who arrived at the scene, said. “All the resources of the Israel Police are allocated to this incident in order to find and bring to justice the murderers.”
Since the start of 2023, 188 people have been killed in the Arab sector, up from 80 during the same period in 2022.
On Thursday, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara green-lighted police to use the controversial Pegasus spyware tool to probe the Basmat Tab’un shooting.
While Baharav-Miara okayed listening in on conversations, she prohibited investigators from pulling data from devices.
The decision comes as the Netanyahu government is set to form a committee to examine law enforcement’s use of spyware technology and in the wake of a scandal in which police accessed information by hacking citizens’ devices.
In 2022, the Calcalist business newspaper reported that the Israel Police used a weaker version of Pegasus, known as Saifan, to hack into the phones of dozens of prominent figures including politicians and business leaders as well as associates and family members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This spyware was being used to collect evidence for Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial, according to the report.
Last month, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) was called in to join an investigation into a quadruple murder in the Western Galilee town of Abu Snan, as well as the killing of Abdel Rahman Kashua, the municipal director of the Israeli Arab city of Tira, located southeast of Netanya.
Netanyahu has vowed to “eliminate crime in the Arab sector.”
“The murder of the director general of the city of Tira crossed a red line. We cannot tolerate these murders, the criminal organizations, the protection rackets and the taking over of the municipality,” the premier said.
“We will use all means, including the Shin Bet and the police, all means, in order to defeat this criminal phenomenon. We have eliminated organized crime in the Jewish sector in Israel and we will eliminate organized crime in the Arab sector in Israel.
“Every citizen of Israel must feel secure and not under the shadow of the threat of internal terrorism,” Netanyahu said.
Earlier this year, Israel’s Cabinet approved the establishment of the Ministerial Committee on the Arab Sector, which is headed by Netanyahu and has convened several times since.
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate
(Additional reporting provided by JNS Reporter)
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