(photo credit: Channel 10)
Police on Wednesday announced they have uncovered a criminal gang in Sakhnin responsible for two incidents in which a soldier was attacked and his personal firearm stolen.
The investigation was carried out by the Galilee branch of the Central Police Yamar investigative unit with the cooperation of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
According to a statement made to the Acre Magistrate’s Court by the prosecution, eight suspects were involved in crimes including membership in an illegal organization, aggravated robbery and a number of weapons-related offenses.
The main suspects, brothers Omar and Mawar Shalata, aged 25 and 24, respectively, and their cousin Muhammad Shalata, also in his 20s, were said to have worked in a methodical manner, carrying out surveillance on soldiers at hitchhiking spots as they awaited an opportunity.
The three have reportedly admitted to the allegations and led police to five other suspects, including brother Nizar Shalata, 32, and Muhammed Amara, 36, who they reportedly sold the guns to. The other three suspects are Mustafa Hasnin, 34, from Abalin, who was believed to have been involved in the gun transactions, Ahmed Abu Salah, 26, of Sakhnin, who police say was involved in planning the two attacks, and Sakhnin resident Iman Hanif, 24, who police believe helped Omar attack a soldier in the first incident, which took place in Karmiel on January 3.
In that incident, Omar Shalata and Hanif managed to make off with the
soldier’s M-16, while moderately wounding the soldier, who was treated
at a nearby hospital.
On February 25, police believe the three
men set upon a soldier at a junction near Kiryat Shmona, struck him on
the head with a blunt object and stole his firearm.
said the assailants fled the scene in a vehicle. A large police search,
involving roadblocks, patrol units and a helicopter was launched soon
after the attack.
On both occasions, police say the three
primary suspects sold the rifles to a member of the Amara crime family
in Kafr Kanna for NIS 34,000 each.