4 arson attempts at Negev elementary school as crime wave rages

Assassinations, robberies, home invasions, and extortion rackets have become part of everyday life in Bedouin communities, with some of the rampant lawlessness spilling over into the nearby Jewish city of Be’er Sheva.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

As organized crime gangs strengthen their stranglehold over communities in Israel’s southern Negev desert, law-abiding Bedouin-Israeli citizens say they feel abandoned by the state.

Last week, students at the Al-Risala elementary school in Tel Sheva arrived to the sight of their front gate blackened after an overnight arson attempt.

Salem Alassem, the school’s principal, told Channel 20 that this marked the fourth time that organized crime gangs had attempted to burn down the school. He had refused to pay protection money on behalf of the educational institution.

“The school was set on fire four times in a row and a lot of damage was done to property and several classrooms,” said Alassem.

“Police claim the investigation is ongoing but we have not heard of any arrests. The school did not set itself on fire four times. Who should we turn to [for help]?”

Read  Russian tourist killed by illegal Palestinian driver

Assassinations, robberies, home invasions, and extortion rackets have become part of everyday life in Bedouin communities, with some of the rampant lawlessness spilling over into the nearby Jewish city of Be’er Sheva and its suburbs.

“I stopped sending the children to school,” a Tel Sheva resident told Channel 20. “The situation here is out of control and I will not take risks when it comes to my children’s lives.

“I tried several times to enroll my children in school in another locality, but came across a sealed wall. As long as I live in Tel Sheva, my children can study only here.”

Another parent with four children enrolled in Tel Sheva schools said, “Small children should not hear gunshots every night and be afraid to go out. Many children sit at home instead of going to school.

“Parents fear their children will be harmed during the gang war in the area. As soon as I have the ability, I will get up and leave.”

In a statement, the Israeli Police said they are “waging a determined and uncompromising fight against serious crime in the area.”

The police are “constantly acting proactively and offensively” against criminals, the statement continued, adding that the force is committed to “locating and prosecuting the perpetrators of crime, wherever they are.”