Photo Credit: Miriam Alster / Flash 90
View of the Soroka hospital in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. May 12, 2015.

A violent clash between two Bedouin clans in the south on Sunday night ended with 19 people arrested and several others injured.

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A delegation of dignitaries from the al-Qassasi and al-Talalka families gathered on Sunday in the city of Rahat to try to reconcile the families and end a three-year feud, but to no avail.

On Sunday night, members of the two clans encountered each other in the corridors of Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva, a meeting that resulted in a clash that subsequently ended in turning the area outside the hospital into a battleground.

The fight included rock-throwing, stabbings, and shooting. Two members of the al-Qassasi family were stabbed in the brawl and another two were lightly injured.

The police arrested 19 people, and fear further violence during the court hearings in Be’er Sheva on Monday in light of the explosive potential in any meeting between the feuding clans.

Soroka Hospital stressed that the medical center continued to operate despite the violence and said there were no staff members injured in the incident.

“We condemn and are concerned about the expression of the severe violence that took place in the area of the medical center,” said the hospital’s director, Dr. Shlomi Kodesh. “This is a crossing of a red line and we demand that vigorous actions be taken to maintain the well-being of the hospital patients and its staff.”

The police stated that further arrests are expected.

Member of Knesset Itamar Ben Gvir, who arrived at the battle scene, stated that “the results of the criminal negligence are evident on the ground. Police should shoot at any terrorist who shoots, throws stones and endangers human lives.”

“The south is on fire not only from today because there is a loss of governance. If the police cannot handle the situation, because there is a non-functioning commissioner, he should leave the keys and go home,” he said.

Crime in Bedouin society in the Negev has increased in recent months with a series of severe cases of violence, murders, and indiscriminate shooting incidents.

Since the beginning of 2021, nine Arab citizens have been murdered in the Negev, and a total of 113 throughout the country.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.