The search is on for a masked gunman who shot and killed the principal of a Taibe high school on Monday morning, before a horrified group of teachers in the Sharon city.
The principal, Yussuf Haj Yihya, was speaking to a group of teachers at a meeting in his office when the assailant walked in and shot him several times in the head and chest before fleeing on foot.
Paramedics rushed Yihya in critical condition, to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba - where he was pronounced dead shortly after.
Police said that this was a targeted killing, as the gunman fired directly on Yihya, adding that they are pursuing a number of motives.
Yihya was the brother of former mayor Rafik Haj Yihya, who died in 2000. Yussuf had recently announced his desire to run for mayor of Taibe.
Home to around 40,000 residents, the city in the “Triangle” region has for some time had a reputation for poverty and high crime.
Taibe-native MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) condemned the shooting, calling it “a dastardly crime that has astounded us all. This was a successful educational figure and local leader whose life was cut short.”
Tibi called on local authorities to find those responsible and said that violence within Israeli society is “a cancer” that must be stopped.
Welfare Minister MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) a former high school principal called the crime “a severe and unthinkable incident” while MK Amram Mitzna (Hatnua), head of the Knesset Committee on Education called the murder “a crossing of all red lines” and “a serious tragedy not only for the residents of the city, the students and the teachers, but also for our entire society.”
On Monday afternoon local police handed the case over to the Central District’s special investigative unit because of the seriousness of the crime and due to the fact that it involved a public figure. They also secured a sweeping gag order preventing publication of almost any details of the investigation.