Border Police officers in the West Bank town Awarta 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini)
Police dispatched to Taiba, near Kfar Saba, on Wednesday encountered masked
gunmen from a notorious crime family and opened fire in their direction, killing
a cousin of the clan’s leader.
Officers said they saw Kalashnikov assault
rifles and handguns pointed at them during the police operation near a home
owned by the Abd al-Khader clan, leading them to open fire.
represents a dramatic escalation in tensions between the clan, which is dominant
in Taiba, and police. Law enforcement has been systematically working to decrease the clan’s influence.
“It is unfathomable that in Israel, a
police unit arrives and is met by gunmen,” Public Security Minister Yitzhak
Aharonovitch said. The minister praised police for acting “professionally
against crime families,” and offered his full support.
“We won’t allow a
group of outlaws to harm the daily lives of residents,” he
Following the shooting, police arrested five suspects for illegal
possession of weapons, and said more arrests would follow soon. One of the
suspects was injured while being arrested, and is in moderate
Police maintained a heavy presence in the town after
Tensions between criminal elements and police in Taiba have
been on the rise for several months.
In April, police moved in to clear a
compound under the control of the Abd al-Khaders.
Dozens of officers from
the Taiba police station and the Border Police raided the site, tearing down
CCTV cameras installed on the premises that filmed public areas, while
bulldozers demolished roadblocks and piles of waste set up to block public
A day after the operation, Taiba police chief
Dep.-Cmdr. David Pilo and a second senior officer whose identity was
withheld had their lives threatened by members of the Abd al- Khader family,
police said. The unnamed officer received a threatening call to his personal
cellphone. Police from the central district’s elite Central Unit arrested nine
members of the clan and brought them in for questioning after the
A police source said last month that the clan is “heavily
involved” in criminal activities in the area.
Police in the central
district have stepped up arms raids in Arab towns; they seized no fewer than 250
illegal firearms in 2011.
In a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post
central police district head Cmdr. Bentsi Sao said he has seen a dramatic change
in the approach to police from the Arab Israeli public.
“They are calling
for us to make our presence felt in Arab areas,” he said, adding that ordinary
Arab citizens were frightened of the presence of heavily armed criminal gangs.