The terrorist who carried out the deadly attack on the Be’er Sheva central bus station Sunday evening was a 21-year-old Israeli Arab resident of the nearby Bedouin town of Hura, police say.
The mother of Muhaned al-Okabi was raised in Gaza, but under Israeli law she was allowed to cross the border after marrying an Israeli Arab citizen. The couple settled in Hura.
The rest of the case remains under gag order.
The fact that a resident of a Negev Bedouin town has joined the ranks of the Palestinian Arab terrorists, however, is deeply troubling.
It’s a game-changer in terms of its implications for Jews living in southern Israel, particularly for those living in the northern and eastern sections of the Negev. This is where Jews and Bedouin live cheek-and-jowl together, and co-existence is a reality, not an abstract concept discussed over coffee or at a symposium.
“The revelation that Hura has turned the corner to join Hebron’s ‘terrorist central’ mentality is scary for Jews living in Meitar, Arad, and Omer, each just minutes away – let alone Be’er Sheva, the central hub where everyone passes through,” Natalie J., a resident of Arad, told JewishPress.com on Monday.
There are more than 250,000 Bedouin living in the Negev, a vast region that comprises approximately 60 percent of the state’s land.
That population outnumbers the Jewish population in the region, which is comprised mostly of immigrants who do not mind the inconvenience of inadequate transportation, lower salaries, and a lack of jobs and services.
Despite all of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promises, those living on the periphery are still pioneers and face hardships others know little or nothing about. In the south, that complicates traumatic events even further, due to a lack of funding and resources.
Sunday’s attack by a local Bedouin may in fact represent a further risk to the Negev Jewish population. If so, it will require a defense plan similar to that being considered for Judea, Samaria and the integrated parts of northern, southern and eastern Jerusalem.
Hana Levi Julian