In response to the torching of a policeman's car early Thursday, Southern District police have flooded Dimona with around 100 police officers, mostly members of special units, as part of an attempt to confront a wave of threats and attacks against public figures, particularly members of the law enforcement community.
"This was a red line that must not be crossed. Any arm raised against the police here will be cut off," said district chief Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev. "There will not be a single criminal in Dimona who will sleep well now."
After a morning situation assessment, Bar-Lev dispatched a Border Police Yasam company and police special units to the city, together with members of the Negev Subdistrict's elite Central Investigative Unit, who were charged with cracking the car-torching case.
Criminals torched the private vehicle of the police intelligence coordinator in front of his apartment, where his wife and four young daughters were sleeping. The policeman contacted his own station, but there was nothing that they could do. The car, which he intended to take in the morning to buy presents for the girls - all of whom are under 10 years old - was destroyed.
"Our best unit is investigating this as if it were a double murder or a terror attack," said Bar-Lev. "In a week, this will be solved. We are going to go after every active, known criminal in this city. We'll get them on everything, even the smallest traffic offense. Criminal-owned businesses will be visited nonstop." Bar-Lev said that this was the best way to confront the phenomenon of policemen and public servants under threat.
"I have no doubt that whoever did this will be brought in. This way cops in the Southern District know that there is no way that anybody who threatens them will get away with it. We'll take the perpetrators as far as the law allows us, and the police officers doing their jobs will know that we've got their backs and will support them," said Bar-Lev.
The policeman's car, which was less than a year old, will be replaced by his insurance company, but the southern district commander said that the police would fill in any gap between the insurance and the cost of the replacement vehicle. In the meantime, the girls and their mother are taking their Hanukka vacation field trips in the Bar-Levs' own police-issued jeep. They will be doing so, however, with a police-sponsored "security basket" including guards and a distress button.
Staff officers in the district said that the policeman whose car was torched had demonstrated that he was determined to continue with his work.
"The important thing," said Bar-Lev, himself formerly a target of personal attacks while commander of the elite IDF Duvdevan Unit, "isn't the security basket, but that you know that you have the backing of your commanders and your coworkers. Backing is the key word."
But the Dimona cop was far from the only law-enforcement figure to feel the pressure of personal threats Thursday.
Jerusalem police said that they would increase security around a city court judge who recently convicted two crime lords after her home was burglarized overnight.
The decision to beef up security around Jerusalem District Court Justice Hannah Ben-Ami - who had already been under daytime security protection since convicting two top mobsters earlier this week - came 12 hours after her home was burglarized.
The judge and her husband were woken up in the middle of the night after they heard noises in their apartment.
After they didn't find anyone in the house, they spotted a man sitting in their car, who fled the scene with a couple of other suspects when he saw that he had been spotted.
Several personal documents were stolen from the judge's house, while appliances were stolen in a separate break-in at the home of a relative of the judge later in the night.
It was not immediately clear if the two break-ins were indeed connected, although the timing suggested they were.
No arrests were made in the case on Thursday, and the suspects remain at large.
Earlier this week, Ben-Ami had convicted alleged organized crime boss Assi Abutbul of being an accessory to a weapons deal, and had found reputed Jerusalem crime chief Eli Naim - commonly known by his nickname "The Magician" - guilty of conspiring to commit a crime and of illegally purchasing a weapon.
During his trial, Abutbul was ejected from the courtroom after he shouted at the judge. He later told reporters, "She will pay the price."
Three years ago, a Tel Aviv judge was shot dead outside his suburban Tel Aviv home by a lone gunman, in the first assassination of a judge in the country's history. The cold-blooded murder of Judge Adi Azar as he pulled up to his Ramat Hasharon home sent shock waves through the country.
The assassin and jailed mastermind behind the killing were sentenced to life in prison last year.
Earlier this week, the mayor of Rishon Lezion was also assigned police protection following threats against his life, and a prominent soccer coach received threats from a disgruntled teenage fan, who was arrested and confessed to sending the threatening text message during a key game.
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