Be’er Sheva Hospital Brawl Shows Israel Has 'Crossed a Red Line,' Mayor Says

Sunday's violence in southern city 'is an existential war for Israeli society,' mayor says

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The scene of the fight at Soroka Medical Center, on Sunday.
The scene of the fight at Soroka Medical Center, on Sunday.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

A brawl at a Be'er Sheva hospital showed that "the State of Israel has lost control," Mayor Ruvik Danilovich said on Monday, a day after four were injured and 19 arrested at the Soroka Medical Center.

“Over and over, another red line is crossed, and it’s time to put an end to it … The government must fight civilian terror, and fight it to the bitter end. This is an existential war for Israeli society,” he told a city hall news conference.

“We suddenly woke up last year and saw the streets of Israel flooded with weapons," Danilovich said, adding that everyone must be involved in eradicating crime, including the Shin Bet security service.

Police were initially called to stop a fight at the hospital emergency room but while that incident was being investigated another brawl erupted outside the hospital building, the chief of the Be’er Sheva police said. “In that brawl, it appears someone used a gun. We have a number of findings from the site that are being examined,” he said.

Videos of the brawl, which involved two families from the town of Rahat, show people throwing stones beside a police car, and gunfire is heard.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke about the brawl on Monday at the start of a meeting of the ministerial team fighting crime and violence in Arab society and defended the government’s efforts to fight crime.

“We are dealing in an orderly way with a problem that we have long learned to tolerate as unsolvable, chronic –  a problem that has long been repressed. Now, our job isn’t to take our foot off the gas pedal but to step on it harder than ever," he said.

Be'er Sheva Mayor Ruvik Danilovich in 2019Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Speaking to the Ynet news site, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev said: “Over the years, we allowed this phenomenon to continue without the Israeli government and other law enforcement authorities dealing with it. So, our task is difficult and complicated. We won’t be deterred and will ensure that incidents like this and others stop.”

Bar-Lev stressed that his ministry and the police are in the midst of a major effort to educate crime but added “it will take months.”

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