A record number of Arab Israelis, 244, were murdered in 2023, the Abraham Initiative announced on Sunday.
“The year 2023 ending today is the most violent ever in the Arab society in Israel. Unfortunately, 244 Arab citizens have lost their lives in the circumstances of violence and crime—a shocking and inconceivable number, a figure more than twice compared to last year. Two hundred forty-four faces, names, each and every one is a whole world,” the organization said.
The Abraham Initiative is a nonprofit organization that promotes Arab integration into Israeli society.
This year’s spike in violence is attributed to organized crime groups fighting turf battles and trying to kill rivals. Arab criminal organizations have been involved in extortion, money laundering, and trafficking in weapons, drugs and women.
The final tally of 244, according to the Abraham Initiative, “comes despite a slowdown in trend during the first weeks of the war, but the crime returned and rose until it reached almost the level it was before the war. It should be noted that in September alone, the bloodiest month of 2023, 29 people lost their lives. A victim every day on average.”
This was more than double the 120 Arab sector homicides in 2022.
The organization slammed the government for not taking stronger action, saying that only 21 of the year’s 244 murders were solved—a clearance rate of 9.6%.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports giving the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) a more active role in fighting the rising crime, but this suggestion is opposed by Arab leaders and Shin Bet officials.