Five Dead in Four Separate Shootings in Central, Northern Israel

Police are investigating links between two criminal incidents in the city of Lod

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The crime scene in Lod, December 15, 2018.
The crime scene in Lod, December 15, 2018.Credit: Ilan Assayag

Two men and a woman were shot dead on Saturday evening in Lod, south of Ben-Gurion International Airport, in a suspected string of criminal incidents. A third man was moderately wounded. Two other men were killed in unrelated criminal incidents in northern and central Israel.

The woman and one of the men, her husband, were both in their 40s and members of a crime family known to police. Aminah and Jadua Azbargeh were driving near the headquarters of the police's anti-fraud unit, Lahav 443, when they were shot at close range from a passing vehicle.

They both sustained wounds to their upper bodies. After being shot, Jadua lost control of the car, drove over a traffic island and crashed into a pole. Medical teams pronounced them dead at the scene.

The crime scene in Lod, December 15, 2018.Credit: Ilan Assayag

Police are searching for the shooter or shooters.

About two hours after the first shooting, as police forces were gathered around the crime scene, another round of fire was heard nearby. Two men, aged 47 and 22, were wounded. The older man, later identified as Ramle resident Ali al-Asam, was taken to the hospital in serious condition and was later pronounced dead. The younger man sustained moderate wounds.

The police are looking into a possible connection between the two cases and assess al-Asam was caught in a crossfire, when an unidentified gunman allegedly attempted to retaliate for the Azbargehs' death.

Investigators are also looking at security camera footage of the scene, which should be well-documented due to its proximity to the police headquarters.

Al-Asam's relatives said on Sunday they're convinced he wasn't actively involved in the shooting. His brother, Ahmed, added he was shot upon returning from collecting a payment from his employer. Al-Asam was never involved in criminal activity, the brother said.

Also Saturday night, a 22-year-old man was shot to death in the Arab Israeli city of Yafia, near Nazareth. Muhammed Abu Diak was found in the street seriously wounded. He was evacuated to a hospital in Nazareth, where he was pronounced dead an hour later.

Police are investigating the incident, and said the background for the shooting remains unclear. The Nazareth Magistrate Court filed a gag order on publishing details of the investigation.

On Friday, Ashraf Abu Kaud, a 43-year-old resident of Jaffa, sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the head in the neighberhood's Yefet street. Another man was moderately wounded in the shooting. Police are investigating the matter.

Abu Kaud was known to police, but was said to have moved away from criminal activity and worked in construction.

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