A prison response team shot dead an inmate serving a life sentence for murder at Rimonim Prison on Sunday, after he barricaded himself inside a bathroom and opened fire on advancing officers.
The inmate was Samuel Sheinbein, a 34-year-old American-Israeli Jew. When he was 17 he was charged with killing and then dismembering and torching the body of teenager Enrique Tello Jr. in Maryland in September 1997.
On Sunday night, surgeons were working to save the life of prison guard Hilal Bisan, 33, of Jatt, whom Sheinbein shot with a pistol and critically wounded at the beginning of the standoff.
Bisan’s twin brother Jilal was a Prisons Service worker who died in the Carmel fire of December 2010.
Sheinbein wounded several other Prisons Service employees, according to authorities, including one who was moderately wounded and three who suffered light injuries.
Two employees were treated for shock.
Hours after the incident, the Prisons Service said it still did not know where the pistol Sheinbein used came from.
Guards do not carry firearms on duty in Israeli prisons and the gun was an old model not used by employees, Prisons Service Chief Commissioner Aharon Franco said Sunday.
“We will examine how the pistol made its way into the facility. Our assessment is that it was smuggled in,” Franco said, adding that two investigative teams had already been set up to probe the incident, one by the Prisons Service and one by the Israel Police.
The service also said that there was no closed-circuit footage of the shoot-out, because Sheinbein disabled the cameras in the bathroom.
Around 3 p.m., the Prisons Service reported that an inmate had barricaded himself in a cell block at Rimonim prison.
Not long after, it reported that the inmate was being taken from his cell to be moved to a different cell block and stopped at a bathroom on the way, at which point he pulled out a pistol and began firing at guards.
Sheinbein holed up in the bathroom while response teams from the police Counterterrorism Unit and anti-riot officers from the prison Masada Unit readied for deployment.
Sheinbein made no demands and took no hostages, the Prisons Service said.
Shortly after 5 p.m., response teams were sent in to neutralize the inmate. As they advanced on Sheinbein, he opened fire on them, wounding a number of Masada officers, the service said.
Sheinbein fled to Israel following the 1997 murder, attaining an Israeli passport through his father, who had lived in Israel and was a dual citizen.
The Israel Supreme Court rejected a US extradition request in accordance with the law at the time, though an Israeli court later sentenced him to 24 years for the murder.
On February 6, Sheinbein was arrested during a furlough from prison after he tried and failed to steal a firearm from a man in Ramle.
Sheinbein had met the man online and expressed interest in buying a used pistol he was selling.
Shortly after meeting the man, they began to drive to a weapons store in Ramle to buy ammunition, at which point Sheinbein snatched the pistol from him. Sheinbein did not get far before the man chased him down and held him until police arrived.
The Prisons Service had decided to cancel his furloughs a year earlier, but reinstated them after a court order.
MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid), head of the Knesset advocacy group for prisoners, said that the incident at the prison was a “warning signal pointing to the lack of state oversight of what occurs within the prison walls in Israel.”
Kol called for the state to formally inquire into prison protocols and, what she called, the deficient prison conditions in Israel.
The incident is the latest of several serious incidents during the time that Franco has headed the agency.
In March 2013, Shai Cohen, 40, of Holon, jumped out of the second-story window of the Jerusalem Rabbinical court.
Cohen, who was not handcuffed or wearing ankle restraints, has still not been found. Later that month, 50-year-old Michael Yeruslavsky, who was being held on an attempted murder charge, managed to escape his guards at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba. He was caught when a police helicopter spotted him hours later.
In April, hunger strikes and riots broke out in prisons after Palestinian security prisoner Maissara Abu Hamdiyeh, 63, died of cancer while in the process of being released from prison.
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