Convicted Hitman Flees Hospital, Captured in Southern Israel After Manhunt

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Yaron Sanker in court, in 2006.
Yaron Sanker in court, in 2006. Credit: Moti Kimche

A convicted murderer who escaped while receiving medical treatment was captured following a manhunt early on Monday.

Yaron Sanker, who is serving two life sentences for multiple murders and violent offences, fled from Assaf HaRofeh Medical Center in central Israel late on Sunday. He took a taxi to the nearby city of Rishon Letzion, then evidently took another cab to the southern city of Be'er Sheva, where he was apprehended. 

Major police and prison service forces were scrambled to search for Sanker in Rishon Letzion. Units patrolled the streets, guns drawn, amid fears that he would try to barricade himself in a private home.  

Police, prison service officers search for an escaped murderer, Yaron Sanker, in Rishon Letzion, November 15, 2015.Credit: Ilan Assayag

Judges and prosecutors involved in Sanker's trials were warned that he was on the loose. 

For years, Sanker served as a hitman for the Ohana brothers, a crime family. In 2003, he shot and killed two people at a barbershop in Hod Hasharon, in central Israel. The Ohana brothers suspected that one of the victims was involved in the murder of their father; the second man was a shop employee. 

Sanker also attempted to murder Shimon Zrihan, another crime figure.

He was arrested while trying to flee the country in 2004, and later incriminated the Ohana brothers in several violent cases. 

He was convicted of two accounts of murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and aggravated assault. In 2006, he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.

Sanker has been in solitary confinement at Nitzan Prison since April after launching a hunger strike, demanding that he be recognized as a state witness in return for helping to solve several murder cases. The police had in fact considered this option but dropped it due to the fact that Sanker was the one who committed most of those murders.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has charged Warden Eli Gabizon, the deputy chief of the Israel Prison Service, with heading the investigation into Sanker's escape.  

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