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2 arrested for threatening Nazareth mayor, as crime wave hits upcoming election

Two men were arrested Thursday morning on suspicion of threatening Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam, police said, as surging violent crime in the Arab community was increasingly spilling over into the upcoming municipal elections, especially in that city.

Police said the two suspects, one from Umm al-Fahm and the other from Jaljulia, were being questioned and that they would then likely be brought for a remand hearing at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court.

Several candidates have been shot in recent weeks in attacks blamed on organized crime.

Earlier this week, another candidate for mayor of Nazareth, Musab Dukhan, and two of his relatives were shot and lightly injured in the country’s largest Arab city.

Dukhan, a current council member who is running to replace Salam in the October 31 election, also had shots fired at his home a month ago, although no one was hurt in that incident.

Last month, Marhan Awaisy, the son of Nazareth Deputy Mayor Muhammad Awaisy, was shot dead in the northern town of Reineh. Another son of the deputy mayor, Rouad Awaisy, was killed in March.

On Wednesday, an unknown assailant on a motorbike fired shots at the home of Tamra Mayor Suhail Diab. No injuries were reported. Police arrested three suspects.

Two people were shot dead in separate incidents in the central city of Lod on Monday and on Wednesday.

In a shocking crime last week, four people were murdered in a mass shooting in the northern town of Abu Snan, one of them a mayoral candidate.

A day earlier, Tira’s city manager, Abdul Rahman Kashua, was shot dead.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would involve the Shin Bet security service in assisting police operations in combating crime in the Arab community, specifically crime related to municipal elections.

On Sunday, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich agreed to finally release long-awaited funds to Arab municipalities that he had recently frozen over ostensible concerns they would reach criminal gangs, pending the implementation of an oversight mechanism.

A tally by the Abraham Initiatives, an anti-violence advocacy group, says that 160 member of the Arab community have been killed so far this year — more than double the figure for the same period last year.

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