Negev sub-district police on Sunday night arrested a man they believe threw a brick at a police officer last Thursday in Rahat, after officers arrived at the Beduin village to break up a family dispute.

The police officer, Insp.- Gen. Eli Cohen, suffered a broken eye socket and was knocked unconscious by the brick. He was rushed to Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, where he is currently still recovering from his wounds.

Police said they are still unsure if he will regain vision in the eye. Cohen is the head of the Investigations and Intelligence Branch of the Rahat police station, and was leading the police response on Thursday night when he was hit by the brick. An additional officer was beaten and kicked across his entire body, before police made the decision to flee the area as rocks rained down upon them, Negev District Police spokesman Supt. Nava Tabu said.

On Sunday night the main suspect was found by police in a closet inside a house in a Beduin village near Segev Shalom. He is one of a total of 15 suspects arrested since Friday in connection with the incident.

The incident began as a relatively minor one for a city where brawls and shootouts involving dozens of members of rival clans are not uncommon.

Last Thursday night, however, police responded to a domestic violence call involving a particular family, and when they arrived they were quickly swarmed by dozens of members of the clan, many of whom were throwing rocks, Tabu said.

Southern District Police view the incident as an especially grave case of violence against law enforcement officers, with district commander Yoram Halevy saying on Friday that “it is unthinkable that police officers will arrive to give assistance during a violence in the family incident, in order to help people and save lives, and will themselves be seriously attacked.”

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