Acre Mayor Shot, Moderately Wounded

Unknown assailant shoots Acre's mayor while in his car in the Western Galilee; police are investigating.

Acre Mayor Shimon Lankri was shot in the chest Friday night while driving on Route 70 in the Western Galilee.

The perpetrators have not been caught. Police said they are investing several possible motives.

Lankri was evacuated to a hospital in Nahariya with a chest wound. His condition was upgraded to moderate to good last night.

According to an initial police investigation, at around 1:30 A.M., a man wearing a mask stepped in front of the mayor’s car while it was stopped at a light, and shot him once through his windshield. The man then fled on foot.

Lankri then drove several kilometers toward Acre, reaching Route 85, where he signaled for help. A private ambulance took him to hospital in Nahariya. His condition is now listed as moderate but stable.

The circumstances of the shooting are not yet clear. Coastal District Commander Haggai Dotan said the police had no record of recent complaints or threats against the mayor.

But Lankri’s brother, speaking from the hospital, said he was not surprised by the shooting, as the mayor had recently received death threats and filed a complaint with the police. Several weeks ago, the mayor reportedly told police that he suspected he was being trailed. In addition, several weeks ago a man was interrogated for allegedly offering to pay someone to hurt Lankri.

Lankri has been mayor since 2003. As of August, he has been under the protection of a body guard.

Acre residents said the mayor had increased enforcement in the city over the past year, and that a tax had been imposed in order to fund these activities.

One such action included confiscating horses that were allegedly being kept in substandard conditions. This has created bitterness among the horses’ owners, who make their living operating horse-drawn carriages for tourists.

Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar condemned the incident after visiting Lankri in hospital. “The assassination attempt is a severe and grave incident which is part of a recent pattern of violence against local officials. We need to think hard and learn lessons in order to fight this phenomenon of physical threats on public servants.”

The chairman of the local authorities’ security committee, Avi Naim, issued a sharp-tongued response: “The blood of council leaders in Israel has become worthless. Things will only get worse during the elections, and the murder of a council head is only a matter of time.”

Naim, who is also the mayor of Beit Aryeh-Ofarim, pointed an accusing finger at the Finance Ministry, and said: “Despite the fact that it was approved by a committee of cabinet ministers, the Treasury has not approved the security budget for council heads, who are under threat.”

He added: “The central government and Israel Police are not giving council heads the back-up they need. It is inconceivable that in a civilized country, mayors are shot and all the government agencies are not shaken to their core.”