Said al-Harumi, a Bedouin Member of Knesset for the Arab Ra’am party, died early Wednesday at the age of 49 after being rushed to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba after suffering a heart attack.
“May God have mercy on our Said and accompany him in peace,” Ra’am said in a statement announcing his death. “Condolences to his family and the people of the Negev.”
Party chief Mansour Abbas said al-Harumi was a “young, smart, energetic politician.”
“He was a young, energetic and intelligent politician,” Ra’am head Mansour Abbas said of Alharomi. “He always believed in his way a member of the community of Negev Arabs. This is a huge loss,” Abbas added. “His entire life, he worked for the residents of the Negev. Everyone who knew him said he was an amazing man who knew how to get everyone to agree.”
“It wasn’t difficult to be his friend,” said Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi, “this is a painful loss for everyone, to the Negev, to Ra’am, to me, and to the entire Arab public.”
President Isaac Herzog released the following message on Twitter, in both Hebrew and Arabic: “Shocked and pained by the untimely passing of my friend Said al-Harumi, the chairman of the Knesset Interior Committee and a man of the Negev. In his many roles, al-Harumi was a wise and amicable public servant who faithfully represented the Bedouin community in the Negev. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.”
Not everyone was so distraught over the Arab MK’s death. Herzl Hajaj, the father of Lieutenant Shir Hajaj who was murdered in a ramming attack in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem in 2017, has publicly accused Arab members of the Ra’am party of supporting terrorism.
“The supporter of terrorism, MK al Harumi, died last night from a heart attack,” Hajaj wrote on his Twitter account. “ His heart could not stand the excitement of expecting billions of shekels flowing to terrorists and terrorism. “
“A very sad day for the supporters of the terrorists in the government,” Hajaj added.
At the end of June, an expose published by investigative journalist Kalman Libeskind was published in Maariv news alleging that al-Harumi used his position of influence to illegally seize land and to block the other Bedouin residents from legal recourse. Ironically, Harumi claimed that his motive for entering Israeli politics was the Israeli oppression of Bedouins and the government’s seizure of lands.
The Ra’am party became part of the coalition that put Naftali Bennett in the prime minister’s seat in June. Al Harumi broke with his party and abstained from voting.
Al-Harumi was born in Shaqib al-Salam in southern Israel to a Muslim Negev Bedouin family. He was Secretary-General of the United Arab List, and chairman of the political bureau of the southern branch of the Islamic Movement from 2002 until 2014, before becoming the deputy chairman of the United Arab List. He served as head of the Knesset’s Interior and Environmental Protection Committee.
It is expected that al Harumi will be replaced by Iman Khatib-Yasin, a self-proclaimed feminist and Israel’s first hijab-wearing MK, who was elected to parliament in 2020 but failed to retain her seat in the 2021 vote. She is also a member of the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement.