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A soldier in the Israel Defense Forces' Bedouin Reconnaissance Battalion is believed to have shot a comrade to death yesterday in a Be'er Sheva mall after a dispute over the use of a mobile phone.

Ramiz al-Abid, of Rahat, was shot while at Hanegev Mall and later died of his wounds after being evacuated to Soroka Medical Center.

The suspect was placed under the custody of the IDF Military Police, which is handling the case, until an indictment is filed.

Yesterday's incident was the second instance of a member from the unit killing a comrade this year - in January a soldier killed his comrade while on patrol in southern Israel.

The incident led to calls throughout the army for the unit to "clean house" and root out troops believed to represent a threat to their fellow soldiers.

Southern District police are taking precautions to thwart any acts of revenge on the part of the Abid's family, deploying 50 more troops around the city with dozens more on standby.

Police intend to intensify patrols and deploy additional officers around the Abid home.

"It is impossible to know what might happen here, so we need to be prepared for anything and to try to keep tempers calm to avoid a bloodletting," said one officer.

"Everyone here is very emotional, the family of the [suspected] murderer is holed up at home, not going out for fear that the victim's family will avenge his blood," he said. "They just don't know what to do. There is tension in the air, there are those who are trying to calm both sides, but it doesn't seem to be working."

Abid became engaged to his girlfriend, also of Rahat, a year ago and the two planned to marry after his release from the army.

Police believe an argument led to the deadly encounter. Initial investigations reveal that shortly before the murder, the two soldiers had eaten and consumed alcohol at Be'er Sheva's Hanegev Mall while waiting for transportation back to their army base.

An argument is believed to have erupted over use of a mobile phone, after which the suspect cocked his personal weapon and began chasing Abid before firing three bullets at his torso.

"We saw someone approach and then shoot several shots at a soldier from close range," said a witness. "Right away a crowd of people gathered, and security guards arrived. The guards chased after [the suspect] and tried to catch him, and then we saw the soldier collapse."

Abid was evacuated to the city's Soroka Medical Center in critical condition and shortly thereafter died of his wounds.

The reconnaissance brigade's main task is protecting Israel's border along the southern stretch of the Gaza Strip and the communities in the area. About one-third of Bedouin soldiers who enlist in the IDF go to the brigade, another third serve as trackers in various army units and the rest serve in a variety of other roles.