A 32-year-old volunteer with the police force was killed Tuesday after a car ran into him and a police officer in the northern city of Nahariya, during an operation to find undocumented Palestinian workers.
Both men were taken to the Western Galilee Hospital in the city, where the volunteer was pronounced dead. He was later identified as Hosam Zghaiyir, a resident of the predominantly Druze town of Yarka. The officer, 31, was moderately wounded. Police ruled out the possibility of a politically motivated attack a few hours after the incident.
A suspect, a 44-year-old resident of the town of Arraba who police say drives Palestinian workers regularly, was detained a short while after the incident at a nearby police roadblock.
His brother, who police say drove workers from the West Bank to Nahariya on Tuesday morning, was also detained. The two own a construction business together.
Later on the in evening, the police arrested 12 undocumented Palestinian laborers, including two suspected to being present in Nahariya when the incident occurred.
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A medic at the scene said the two were hit near a construction site. The policemen were called to the area by residents who complained about the noise from the site, and only then, according to police sources, they planned to inspect the workers' permits.
An initial investigation ruled out a political motive, despite involvement in the case by the Shin Bet security service. A lawyer for the main suspect also denied any political motive.
The investigation suggested the main suspect sought to prevent the officers from apprehending any of the workers at the site, rather than carry out a premeditated attack.
His lawyer, Tarek Naamneh, confirmed that he employs Palestinian workers from the West Bank, but insisted they all had a valid permit. After meeting with his client, Naamneh said he denied deliberately running into anyone and did not even realize he had hit someone. According to Naamneh, police asked the suspect to leave the scene and he left alone in his car.
Sami Zghaiyir, the victim's uncle, said his nephew had served in the military and worked at the national power company. Hosam was 32-years-old with two children aged five and a half, and had volunteered with police for seven years, said his uncle.
Jack Khoury contributed to this report.