Two detectives were shot overnight Friday in an Israeli Arab town by an unknown assailant who later fled the scene.
One police officer was seriously wounded after sustaining a head injury, and the other was lightly wounded after being shot in the hand. They were transferred to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva and Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava respectively. The seriously wounded officer regained consciousness after undergoing surgery and is currently recovering in the intensive care unit at Beilinson.
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The detectives were conducting an operation to seize illegal weapons in the town of Tira, part of the “Triangle” cluster of Arab communities in central Israel.
At approximately 2 A.M., the policemen spotted two minors while driving through an agricultural area. When the officers started questioning them, a suspicious vehicle drove by. At that point, they were informed that a shooting had taken place in the area and began pursuing the passing car.
Eventually, the officers caught up with the fleeing car, and pointed their flashlights inside. The the driver started shooting at them; the officers fired back as the vehicle escaped, and were injured in the exchange of fire.
Many police officers and a helicopter were called to search the area. Six people suspected of involvement in the shooting were arrested, and roadblocks were set up across Tira. Police are still searching for the perpetrator.
In addition, two improvised submachine guns and an explosive were found in a nearby structure.
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The Central District Police investigating the case said that they have a strong lead about the identity of the shooter.
Acting Police Commissioner Motti Cohen visited the two police officers at the hospitals, pledging that those responsible for the shooting will be brought to justice.
“It’s our duty to everything possible to bring those involved in the shooting to justice. We’ll continue our determined and uncompromising battle against the possession and use of illegal weapons,” Cohen said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that he "firmly condemns" the shooting, and wishes the officers a speedy recovery. "We will continue to fight crime and violence in the Arab community," he said, and bring the criminals to justice.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the incident "is a severe crime that represents the crossing of a red line." He added in his statement that the Israel Police will continue to work in Arab communities to fight violence and crime. "The police will get their hands on the shooters and bring them to justice," he said. "I wish our wounded officers a speedy recovery and expect every elected official to fiercely condemn this attempted murder of police."