Oz immigration inspectors participating in a routine arrest of illegal migrants on Wednesday morning were sprayed with pepper gas by two Indian nationals hiding in a Herzliya apartment. The men were eventually arrested and will be deported following a hearing.
"We arrived at the apartment early in the morning based on intelligence reports that there were illegal migrants residing there," recalled squad leader Yigal Ben-Ami. "We knocked on the door and announced ourselves as immigration inspectors. We could hear sounds behind the door, but no one answered our calls. We continued to knock and demand admittance and when the door was finally opened several minutes later we entered the apartment. The apartment was split up into several rooms and when we walked into one of them, we were met with a cloud of some kind of chemical gas which choked us up and burned our eyes."
The effect didn't last long, and despite the irritation and itchiness the inspectors proceeded to examine the men's paperwork and discovered that both were residing in Israel illegally, their residence permits long since expired.
"After making sure that my team members were safe and well, we completed the arrest and took the men to our holding center to await hearing and deportation," said Ben-Ami.
Ben-Ami said that yesterday was the first time that Oz inspectors faced such resistance. "We are always prepared for the worst and we remind ourselves of the risk every day in the morning briefing, before we go out to the field. Some of our teams were attacked in the past, but never with anything like this," he said.
Ben-Ami said that it was too soon to start issuing inspectors gas masks, but that they would increase their vigilance even further in the future.
Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabin Hadad said that the Oz unit was viewing the attack as an isolated occurrence and that it was too soon to be drawing conclusions and to be changing their operating mode. "We aren't seeing a trend, but if more incidents like this take place and we see an escalation in resistance, we will have to adjust our tactics. Who knows what levels this will reach."
Hadad explained that during their hearing, the issue of where the tear gas came from would be raised. Hadad explained that in most cases where criminal behavior is encountered among illegal residents, the perpetrators face administrative arrest until the time of their deportation. "The police take responsibility only in cases of severe crimes like assault or rape," said Hadad.
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