Feuding Israeli-Arab families promise more death after highway shooting

Both sides in decade-long family feud threaten more killings as Arab leaders say police are part of the problem.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The head of the Joint Arab List faction in the Knesset said Tuesday that Israeli Arabs could not rely on the police as members of two feuding Arab families in the central Israeli city of Lod threatened more killings.

Police are preparing for an escalation in the blood feud in which three people were shot dead in the past two days. Suleiman Azberga, a 50-year-old crime figure known to police, was found shot to death in his car in Lod, and 16-year-old Omar Abu Saluk and another unidentified young man were killed after their car was riddled with bullets when their police escort was ambushed Monday in broad daylight on a major highway.

In an Israeli version of the Hatfields and the McCoys, the blood feud between the Azberga and Abu Saluk families has been carried out over the past decade. Police arrested two of Azberga’s sons who are suspects in the highway attack, Kan News reported.

“People have to ask ‘why are there organized crime gangs, why are there illegal weapons that are obtained from the army,'” the head of the predominantly Arab Joint List in the Knesset, Ayman Odeh, told Israel Army Radio.

Odeh said the Arab sector has lost all faith in the authorities who have failed to reign in growing violence in the Arab sector fueled in a large part by illegal weapons. Israeli police have complained that despite their efforts the Arabs are not cooperating to solve the problem.

“I have no address [to turn to]. If somebody pays protection [money to gangs] and I tell him go to the police,’ he laughs at me [and says] ‘what do you mean go to the police? They will kill me. There is no police.”

Open threats by both families to exact vengeance for the killings were aired on news broadcasts Monday evening.

Homeland Security Minister Amir Ohana said the police are working vigorously to restore law and order, and police ordered reinforcements deployed as they investigate the failure to protect the members of the Abu Saluk family who were being moved out of Lod for their safety.

Reports indicate that three vehicles with members of the Abu Saluk family drove from Lod to the city of Kafr Qassem accompanied by three police vehicles – one in front and two in the back. The attacking vehicle suspected to contain members of the Azberga family bypassed the police escort while on Highway 6, Israel’s main north-south artery.

As the car drove by the convoy a shooter in the vehicle opened fire with an automatic weapon on the car carrying the two young members of the Abu Saluk clan and then fled the scene at high speed.