Two young Palestinians killed in drive-by shooting

Two more young Palestinian men have been shot dead in the occupied territories amid rising levels of violence in their communities.

Sharif Anees Sheikh Al-Eid and Ibrahim Nidal Sheikh Al-Eid, both aged 20 and from the Palestinian Bedouin town of Rahat, were driving on Route 40 near the Lehavim Junction in southern Israel when suspects opened fire from another moving vehicle.

They were taken to Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Centre in critical condition before being declared dead at dawn on Wednesday morning.

The number of Palestinians killed in Israel this year has now reached 144, a record high. This is in contrast to 2022, when 116 were killed and 2021, when 126 Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed.

In recent months, Palestinian citizens of Israel have denounced police “complicity” amid a record-high murder rate in their community.

Israeli police have opened an investigation into the murders but have so far made no arrests. Police told local media that their initial findings indicated that the shooting was the result of a long-running dispute between gang families in Rahat.

Palestinians in Israel have long complained of discrimination and police inaction against violence and crime that disproportionately affects their communities.

Palestinian citizens of Israel are the descendants of the native population displaced by Zionist militias as part of the creation of Israel in 1948.

For decades, they have suffered under discriminatory laws and practices imposed by the Israeli state.

According to the Abraham Initiatives, crime and violence in the community are a result of “under-policing and tense relations with the Israeli police”.

The non-profit organisation says 50 percent of overall violent crime in the country affects Palestinians, even though they comprise only 20 percent of Israel’s population.

The presence of illegal weapons in Palestinian towns is rampant, with gangs – involved in the drug and arms trade, prostitution and other crimes – taking advantage.

Representatives of the Palestinian population say they have seen enough evidence to suggest that Israeli police deliberately turn a blind eye to the illegal smuggling of arms.

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