A police officer was lightly injured overnight Friday after assailants shot at her vehicle in the northern town of Tuba-Zangariyye, the latest in a series of acts of violence targeting police in the area, which law enforcement believes are connected to an investigation into extortion in the region.
The officer was lightly injured by shrapnel in the shooting in the Galilee Bedouin town, and was taken for medical treatment. Police responded by firing towards the source of the gunfire, and began searching the area for assailants.
In response to the fire, newly-appointed Acting Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai held discussions with Northern District Police Commander Shimon Lavi and other police officials, including the police's Arab community manager, at the Jordan Police Station in Rosh Pina.
"Gunfire at police and police vehicles is a very grave act with significant consequences," Shabtai said at the meeting, adding that he is certain the perpetrators will be brought to justice. "Anyone who thinks that a criminal act like this will deter us is sorely mistaken." Shabtai said that police will increase their activities and use any means at their disposal to put the assailants behind bars.
Police have recently intensified their efforts against protection money extortion in the Galilee region. After months of investigation, police raided the homes of 23 people last week in Tuba-Zangariyye, the town of Arabeh and the Zarzir Regional Council, who are suspected of extortion.
In the course of the arrests, police seized documents as well as vehicles, weapons, drugs, computers and electronic devices, which police say connect the suspects to money laundering, extortion and fraudulent receipt of goods. Fourteen suspects were brought to court to extend their detention.
In the wake of the arrests, four police cars were torched in the area within a week, the most recent of which was set alight on Wednesday. An assailant also threw a grenade at a vehicle parked next to it, causing damage.
- Police car torched in northern Israel, for fourth time in a week
- Without jobs or education, Israel's young Arabs turn to crime
- Two Israeli Arabs killed in suspected family feud shootings
Police believe that two break-ins at police stations last month are also connected to the investigation. The break-ins occurred at the offices of investigators in Tiberias and Safed, and a revolver and computers were stolen.
The commander of the police’s Northern district, Maj. Gen. Shimon Lavi, said police intend to wage a persistent campaign against organized crime in the north, which is terrorizing area residents.
“We will make no concessions or compromises until we eliminate these crime organizations and put their members behind bars,” he said. In light of the situation, Lavi moved his office to a police station near Tuba-Zangariyye.