Arab Citizens of Israel Were Not Spared in the Hamas-Led Massacres

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The family of Awad Darawsheh spent five agonizing days waiting for news. Mr. Darawsheh, a paramedic in his 20s, had been working at a music festival in southern Israel when Palestinian gunmen stormed in, firing at fleeing attendees and dragging others away as hostages.

On Thursday night, his family received word: Mr. Darawsheh had been shot dead by a terrorist in the attack, said Ashraf Ayoub, who oversaw him in the United Hatzalah emergency medical services organization.

Mr. Darawsheh joined a grim list: He was one of more than 100 killed in what appears to have been one of the worst massacres of the sweeping surprise attack launched by Hamas on Saturday. And his death underscores how the terror did not spare Israel’s Arab citizens.

About two million of Israel’s citizens are Arab. Many identify as Palestinian or share close family ties with those in the West Bank and Gaza.

Arab citizens hailing from Bedouin communities scattered across the south appear to have been particularly hard hit. Ata Abu Mdegem, the mayor of the Bedouin Arab city of Rahat in southern Israel, said that he knew of at least 18 Arab citizens from southern Israel who had been killed since the assault began. Some were killed when Palestinian rockets struck their towns, many of which lack safe rooms or sufficient public bomb shelters, he said, and others while working in the farms of towns near the Gaza Strip.

“We’re still in shock,” Mr. Abu Mdegem said. “There’s still so many unanswered questions and confusion.”

He said dozens of Arab citizens were wounded and several others were still missing and feared captured by Hamas.

Ali Abu Sabeelah’s cousin Amer, 25, is one of them. Amer, a construction worker, was in the southern city of Sderot when Hamas gunmen attacked.

Amer Abu Sabeelah, a construction worker, has also been missing since Saturday.Credit…Ali Abu Sabeelah

“We eventually found his car. But he was gone,” Mr. Abu Sabeelah said, adding that the family wasn’t sure whether he was alive, dead, or had been captured.

Back in Rahat, at least four members of the same family — Yousef Zayadneh, his daughter Aisha and his sons Hamza and Bilal — were missing.

“These people came and killed left and right,” said Suleiman Zayadneh, their relative and a local official.

He said he was “proud of being Palestinian” and expressed fury that Hamas had committed such acts supposedly in the name of Palestinian nationalism and Islam.

“What national pride? What religion?” he said of the gunmen. “The people who came to shoot and kill — they know nothing of religion.”

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