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Israel: Funerals to be held for Beersheba stabbing victims

Two women and two men died after an attack by a Palestinian citizen of Israel from Naqab where tensions have been high over plans to expel Bedouin residents
Volunteers clean up bloodstains at the scene of a knife attack outside a shopping centre in Beersheba on 22 March 2022 (AFP)

Israel prepared to hold funerals on Wednesday for four victims of a stabbing and car-ramming attack in the southern region of the Naqab (known in Israel as the Negev).  

The four victims, two women and two men, died on Tuesday after a series of attacks that began outside a shopping mall in the city of Beersheba.

The attacks were carried out by a Palestinian citizen of Israel from nearby Hura town.

The killing of Doris Yahbas, 49, Menachem Yechezkel, 67, Laura Yitzhak, 43, and Rabbi Moshe Kravitzky, 50, was the worst attack on Israeli civilians in recent years.

Yahbas was set to have her funeral in Gilat - though according to the Jerusalem Post, the family requested that media not report from the funeral.

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Killing spree

The suspected perpetrator, identified as 34-year-old Mohammed Abu al-Qian, was shot dead by armed bystanders eight minutes into a killing spree that saw him stabbing and ramming people in multiple locations.

Beersheba's Soroka hospital said two women who were wounded in the attack were both in a stable condition.

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The Abu al-Qian Bedouin tribe - to which the attacker belonged - "strongly" condemned the attack, saying it did "not represent the law-abiding members of the tribe who have always believed in coexistence".

Police said they and members of Israel's Shin Bet domestic security agency had arrested two brothers of Abu al-Qian's on suspicion of failing to alert security forces of an imminent attack. They are expected to appear in court on Wednesday.

Jewish and Palestinian groups in Israel strongly condemned Tuesday's attack.

"This is not the way of the Arab public in general, and in the Negev in particular, in its just struggle against the ongoing dispossession and oppression," tweeted Aida Touma-Sliman, an MP for the Joint List party.

"I warn against racist incitement and the use of this crime to justify the establishment of racist militias that will persecute Arabs."

During a meeting of the Knesset Interior Committee on Wednesday, far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir had to be forcibly ejected after he loudly berated Palestinian politician Waleed Taha, accusing him of "incitement".

"The blood of Negev residents is on your hands," Ben-Gvir told Taha.

"You incited the Negev against Israel. You have no legitimacy, and I will not be silent about it," he added. 

Tensions high

Tensions have run high in the Naqab over government plans to expel Palestinian Bedouins from their homes in order to implement a number of development projects.

The attack on Tuesday comes a week after undercover Israeli police killed Sanad Salem al-Harbad, a Palestinian citizen of Israel from Rahat in southern Israel.

Amid the heightened tensions, far-right activists established an armed civilian unit of rangers to "save the Negev from problematic absence of personal security", reported the Haaretz newspaper last week. 

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