The opposition railed against National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Wednesday after six people were killed in Arab-sector crime incidents, five in the northern Bedouin town Basmat Tabun, and a sixth man, Ataf Abu Kalib, 50, was shot dead in broad daylight in Haifa.
In Basmat Tabun, the victims were all members of the same Delaika family: the parents and their three children. Police suspect a connection between the two murders and are investigating.
Magen David Adom paramedics who arrived at Basmat Tabun pronounced their deaths, while evacuating another man at the scene with moderate injuries to the Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa. “A redline was crossed here,” said police chief Kobi Shabtai at the scene. “The people who carried out this attack, from our perspective, are terrorists; this is a terrorist act,” he added, vowing to bring the killers to justice.
Medics who arrived in Haifa found Abu Kalib lifeless. Three masked men, armed with automatic weapons, rained fire on him, killing him instantly, and immediately exited the scene. Abu Kalib is the cousin of Omar Abu Kalib, a member of the Hariri criminal group.
These latest victims bring the death tally in Arab sector violence this year to 188, compared to 80 at this point last year, according to the Abraham Initiatives, a nonprofit that deals with Arab-Israeli dialogue and tracks the murder rate in the sector. The organization pointed the responsibility to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he must “fire the national security minister immediately and implement a welfare plan to deal with sector crime. This is an emergency.”
The Abraham Initiatives added that of the 188, 171 were shot, 87 were under the age of 30, and 12 were women.
Benny Gantz calls for Ben-Gvir to be fired
After the Haifa murder, various opposition members spoke out against Ben-Gvir with some calling for him to be fired.
Earlier in the day, after the Haifa murder, National Unity leader Benny Gantz said, “The murder today shows just how severe the neglect is and how widespread and deep the treatment must be. The current government, which appointed Ben-Gvir, who is busy with provocations instead of saving human life, is not qualified to handle this problem. The prime minister must fire Ben-Gvir not only because of his actions, but mainly because of his neglect.”Yesh Atid MK Ron Katz voiced a similar sentiment alongside a screenshot of footage from the murder.
Head of the Otzma Yehudit party MK Itamar Ben Gvir at a special committee in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on December 18, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
“This morning, a man was assassinated in the North,” he wrote. “And the idle minister is busy with interviews, TikTok videos, and planning prayer services to divide the people. In what other country would this minister be kept in his position? How can it be that there is no price for failure in the State of Israel?”
He ended by telling Netanyahu that he is responsible for the issue, an accusation echoed by National Unity MK Yifat Shasha-Biton.
“We cannot deal with Ben-Gvir with tweets, it’s time for action,” she said. “There’s no governance, there’s no security, there are more and more victims, more and more crime, and there’s no light at the end of the darkness that has befallen us. Israel’s citizens are living in fear on [Netanyahu’s] watch. You cannot blame the appointed minister, who suffers from delusions of grandeur and who is busy being the neighborhood bully. You were chosen to lead. The responsibility is on you. It’s time to do it.”
After the Basmat Tabun murders, Ben-Gvir made his way to the scene.
“I’m expressing deep shock from the violence and the bloodbath in the Arab sector that claimed another six lives today,” he said. “In the last few months, we gave the police a lot of resources and passed legislation that will help police to eradicate the murders, and we are continuing to work to pass laws, like the option of using biometric cameras, that could save lives.”
The last time a murder of this scale in the sector took place was three months ago in Yafia. Five people were shot in a shooting at a car wash. An investigation found that the shots were fired from automatic weapons.
A woman who resides in the regional council told Maariv that she was at home “when we heard police sirens on the street. We went out not understanding what was happening, and then we heard about the horrific murder of the Delaika family in their home. People cried and screamed. This situation cannot continue; we are being neglected every day. There is no knowing who will be the next victim.”