Two Officers Wounded in Car Ramming in Northern Israel; Suspect Shot Dead

Police open fire at the vehicle, killing one of the suspects and lightly wounding the other

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The suspects' vehicle in Umm al-Fahm on Friday.
The suspects' vehicle in Umm al-Fahm on Friday.Credit: דוברות המשטרה

Two Border Police officers were wounded Friday after a car ran into the force during an operation in the Israeli Arab city of Umm al-Fahm.

Officers fired at the vehicle, killing one of the suspects and wounding the other. A gun was reportedly found and confiscated from the suspect's vehicle.

The suspect who was killed was later identified as Fathi Jabarin, a resident of the city in his 20s. The other suspect was treated on the spot and arrested. 

The gun found and confiscated from the suspect's vehicleCredit:

One of the officers was moderately injured and was evacuated to a nearby hospital. The other officer was lightly wounded and received medical treatment at the scene.

Residents of the neighborhood told Haaretz that the two young men were on their way to avenge the burning of houses belonging to their relatives, which were allegedly set on fire Thursday evening as part of a family dispute. 

The suspect, Fathi Jabrin, who was shot dead in Umm al-Fahem today
Houses on fire in Umm al-Fahm.

One resident added that police set up a roadblock in the area due to a series of violent incidents that took place Thursday night in the city. The resident added that the men attempted to break through the roadblock before running over the police.

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said at a press conference that this incident is "a continuation of criminal conflict" in Umm al-Fahm. He explained that a large police presence was currently inside the city attempting to prevent violence among "criminals who are trying to intimidate one another."

The car-ramming follows a series of violent events, allegedly connected to a family dispute. On Thursday, a shooting in the city killed one man and seriously wounded another, marking the 117th victim of violence in the Arab community this year.

The two were driving when the shooting started, after which they lost control over the vehicle and crashed into a truck. The victim was 33-year-old Muhammad Hamza Burgel Agbaria.

Israeli border police in Umm al-Fahem todayCredit: Fadi Amun

Umm al-Fahm residents told Haaretz Thursday that the shooting was linked to the murder of Ganem Fahmi Jabarin, who was shot dead in October.

Later Thursday, four houses and three cars in the city caught on fire; all belonged to relatives of the two suspects in the ramming of police Friday morning.  No casualties were reported and firefighters arrived at the scene. Police suspect that the arson is related to Agbaria's murder.

Overnight into Friday, four residents of the city were arrested in a police raid on suspects connected to the violent incidents, after a series of civil disturbances took place in the community.

The Coastal District police chief Yoram Sofer explained that the family dispute in the city was known to police. Sofer added that a bolstered police presence had been deployed to the city, along with armored vehicles from the army. He added that on Friday night, riots broke out where "masked men spilled oil, threw bottles, and set houses on fire," after which police "defended residents with their bodies."

After a briefing with officials about the developing situation in the city, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that he "fully backs the officers in the field who are working under difficult conditions to keep us all safe."

Bennett also asked to start a dialogue with local Arab leaders in the hopes of establishing calm.

The city of Umm al-Fahm released a statement asking that everyone work to calm tensions in the community. 

Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev said in a statement on Friday that police "will not bend or shy away" in their investigations.

Earlier Friday Shabtai said that "police officers have the authority to act with all the means at their disposal to thwart attempts to harm civilians and officers. In their activities this morning, the police prevented another shooting incident from taking place following the events last night."

Police say that a total of 6 suspects have been arrested so far in an ongoing investigation into Thursday night's chain of events.

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