rahat 248 88 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
At least 19 people were wounded by gunfire on Saturday when a family feud broke out in the southern town of Rahat.
Dozens of ambulances rushed the wounded to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, where one person was admitted in serious condition, and 12 others in moderate-to-serious condition. Another six people suffered from minor wounds.
Magen David Adom paramedics evacuated the casualties wearing flak jackets and helmets, fearing for their own safety.
Although details of the incident are still murky, witnesses told Israeli media outlets that the violence continued for at least 20 minutes, and that rifles and handguns were primarily used. It was unclear whether some of those involved in the fighting were off-duty soldiers.
The police who arrived on the scene managed to restore order, during which eight people were arrested. An investigation into the incident was ongoing, and more arrests were expected.
Shortly after the incident, the mayor of the city, Faiz Abu Sabhan, strongly condemned the fighting, calling on the police to confiscate all the weapons involved.
Sabhan told Israel Radio that the feud was a tragic escalation of a fight between two children from rival families over the queue at the barber shop.
He said a ceasefire was achieved only following the intervention of respectable elders in the community, including himself.
Police said most bullets fired came from IDF issued weapons belonging to soldiers on weekend leave. More arrests were expected.