Armed robbery turns into deadly pursuit in Eilat

Masked gunmen carjack taxi with passengers inside, trade fire with police; one suspect is killed, the second is in custody.

Forensic police unit (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Forensic police unit
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
An armed robbery of a restaurant turned into a deadly police chase in Eilat early on Sunday, resulting in the shooting death of one suspect.
The incident began when two masked gunmen, brothers aged 26 and 21, entered the Caza De Brazil restaurant in the Red Sea city, waving firearms and demanding cash from employees.
One of the suspects pistol-whipped the restaurant manager.
The manager fled to the restaurant’s rooftop, where he called police.
Two policemen arrived within minutes of the robbery, but the gunmen forced them to hand over their weapons at gunpoint.
The suspects then fled the scene, firing in the air and beating two employees on their way out.
They forced a taxi containing its driver and a female passenger – a Ukrainian tourist – to pull over, and drove off in the stolen vehicle with the two terrified civilians still inside.
Eilat police launched a high-speed pursuit of the suspects. Seeing the patrol cars behind them, one suspect fired rounds out of his window at police. Officers returned fire, aiming at the taxi’s wheels. That forced the stolen car to come to a stop at Shahamon Square.
At that point, police said, the 26-year-old suspect opened fire on police again, who responded this time with deadly force, shooting back at the suspect. He was hit and critically injured.
Paramedics rushed the suspect to the Joseftal Hospital in Eilat, but he died of his injuries soon afterward.
The second suspect is under arrest.
“Both civilians who were in the taxi are safe,” a police spokesman said.
Following the incident, police flooded the scene and began collecting evidence.
Southern police district chief Cmdr. Yossi Prienti traveled to Eilat in the middle of the night to be on the scene.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, who received updates on the pursuit during the early morning, praised the police’s actions.
While calling for a full investigation of what occurred, he said it was apparent that “the police’s determination to engage the suspects resulted in the end of the incident, and prevented harm coming to innocent civilians.”
The brothers came from the Haifa area, and both have criminal records involving property offenses, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
“We are investigating not just the incident itself, where police were in the line of fire, but also how the suspects were able to take firearms from the two policemen who responded first,” Rosenfeld added.