A man from Moshav Ben Shemen, near Lod, has been detained by police after he opened fire and killed one of three men who allegedly trespassed on his property early Tuesday morning.
The Ben Shemen man, whose identify has not been released by police, said his suspicions were aroused by dogs barking and other sounds. He exited his home and, after identifying intruders, opened fire on three suspects, hitting one.
The wounded man was 24-year-old Iad Astal, a resident of Azon Atma in the West Bank who had entered Israel illegally, police said. He was shot in the chest and rushed by paramedics to the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin in serious condition, but died of his injuries.
Astal had a criminal record involving breaking and entering, and vehicle theft. Police said his record, together with evidence gathered from the scene, point to a team of thieves operating in the area.
A caravan on the Ben Shemen property was broken into during the incident, and a number of items stolen, investigators said. Police also recovered electronic gadgets from near Astal that allow for a car to be started without a key, as well as a knife.
Police were searching for Astal's two accomplices.
The homeowner was taken for questioning, and had his firearm taken by police for examination.
A court-imposed media ban prevents several details from being published. The case is the first of its kind since the events that led to approval of the "Dromi Law."
In January 2007, four Beduin intruders entered the Negev ranch of 47-year-old Shai Dromi in the middle of the night. Dromi opened fire, killing one of the men. The farmer told police he felt his life was at risk during the incident.
Dromi was arrested and spent a month in custody before being released to house arrest. His trial began last year in Beersheba.
Since then, a grassroots movement of farmers has rallied to Dromi's support. In the ensuing year, bumper stickers have appeared on cars nationwide bearing the phrase "We are all Shai Dromi," expressing a lack of faith in the police's ability to stop property crime, particularly in rural areas.
In June 2008, the Knesset approved the Dromi Law, which absolves individuals of criminal responsibility "for acts needed to be carried out immediately to repulse an intruder from a home or farm who arrived for the purpose of violating the law."
Responding to the Dromi incident, MKs from left and right took opposing stances.
"He deserves a citation," said Likud MK Yisrael Katz, one of the sponsors of the law, adding that his words applied only "if the man indeed was acting out of self-defense. Burglars must know that their blood will be on their on heads and that the basic right to self-defense is the only way to create deterrence and to try and prevent this disturbing phenomenon wherein people feel unsafe in their own homes."
MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz), on the other hand, denounced the homeowner and reiterated her opposition to the bill. "The Knesset," she said, "has enabled a trigger-happy finger."
"It was only a matter of time before the license to kill, which was granted by the Knesset in legislating the Dromi Bill, will become reality. Burglars should be behind [bars], and it is inconceivable that someone who kills them will be exempt of culpability."
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
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