Opinion: Tuesday’s deadly stabbing attack in Be’er Sheva is just a symptom of the chronic illness afflicting our south — lawlessness and lack of governance; if officials aren’t careful, the area may soon turn into a hotbed of Islamic extremism

The deadly stabbing spree in the southern city of Be’er Sheva on Tuesday took place between two very large and populated shopping centers.

No less than four people lost their lives in the horrendous attack, which could be a small and bloody glimpse into a possible future that awaits the Negev if our government fails to wake up.

The Negev today is like a different state
Illustration of the Negev being carved out into a separate state (Photo: Yotam Fishbein)


One does not have to be a great expert on Bedouin affairs or an academic researcher to understand that there is an increase in the popularity of religious extremism among the Bedouin society – be it in their towns or scattered settlements in the south.

You can simply drive through Bedouin towns such as Laqiya, Hura and Rahat and see the seemingly unceasing construction of more and more mosques.

These houses of worship organize and coordinate innocent social activities aimed at keeping teenagers and young people away from the streets and violent gangs, but they are also an indication of a much broader phenomenon: The strengthening of religious institutions and Islamism.

זירת האירוע בבאר שבע
The scene of Tuesday’s stabbing attack in Be’er Sheva (Photo: Ilana Curiel)


This phenomenon has served to create an assortment of extreme and ever-expanding fringe Islamist groups among Bedouin society in the south.

Every police officer serving at one of the south’s stations, or Shin Bet operative working with the Bedouin community, knows this worrying trend has been going on for over a decade.

Many Bedouins end up marrying women from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, who then give birth to Bedouin Israelis who end up identifying with their Palestinian relatives in the Palestinian territories.

תיעוד הפיגוע בבאר שבע
Security footage showing the attacker approach his first victim with a knife


A quick web search would show that both the police and Shin Bet arrested dozens of young Bedouin men over the last few years, who expressed sympathy with ISIS, and even traveled to Turkey to join the ranks of the jihadists who fought in Iraq and Syria.

Many were eventually indicted and given a prison sentence, which may interpret as being light given the offence. But, Israel is a Western state governed by the rule of law. Unless you harm anyone, sympathizing with a terrorist organization does not net you a life sentence.

That was the case with the terrorist responsible for Tuesday’s attack in Be’er Sheva – 35-year-old Mohammad Abu al-Kian. He used to be a teacher from the Bedouin village of Hura and served four years in prison for conspiring to commit a crime and being a part a the Islamic State.

The prison time did not make him a moderate, quite the opposite.

תיעוד רגעי נטרול המחבל
The terrorist shot and killed by a passerby


Abu al-Kian was inspired to commit the attack by extremists on YouTube and social media. The opportunity to carry it out, however, was handed to him by the Israeli government, as well as the chronic lack of governance and criminal neglect that has characterized Israel’s south since its inception.

It is important to say and remember that the vast majority of Bedouin Israelis in the south are law-abiding and hardworking citizens. The criminal and Islamist elements, however, have expanded so much that they have basically become a separate state.

The Negev is an area where lawlessness reigns supreme; where criminals fire stolen automatic weapons in the middle of the street; where cannabis is grown on vast areas of land in plain sight; where arms dealers and extortion are all too common; where staging street races in the middle of a city is the norm – sometimes without a driver’s license.

שכונת המגורים של המחבל
The Bedouin town of Hura (Photo: Ido Erez)


What is happening in the Negev is no longer due to mere neglect of the education system, the lack of infrastructure, high unemployment and inequality vis-à-vis Jewish-Israeli society
Beyond the need to invest billions to reduce the insane social gaps, there is an urgent need to establish a national task force to restore the law and trust of the Bedouin community in the country.

This task force must act against extremist Islamist elements, and react quickly to any illegal use of weapons, which is often filmed and uploaded by the perpetrators themselves to social media.

This task force needs to act resolutely against the abundance of criminal gangs and criminals elements the Negev.

Although it should have happened a long time ago, it must be done now, before it’s too late.

As reported by Ynetnews