The northern district police in Israel have apprehended a gang of arsonists involved in a devastating fire that occurred at a horse farm in Kfar Shamai near Safed last week, according to a statement from the Israel Police spokesperson.
Four horses were killed and infrastructural damage worth some hundreds of thousands of shekels was caused on the farm due to the arsonists.
The police action came as part of an ongoing effort to combat the widespread extortion of protection money in the region. After receiving a report of a barn fire at a horse breeding farm in Kfar Shamai, police forces were immediately dispatched to the scene.
Initial investigations revealed that the suspects broke into the horse farm on the night of July 17. One of the culprits was identified during the incident, and they deliberately set the stable on fire. Tragically, the fire claimed the lives of four horses and caused extensive damage.
The suspects were arrested at different locations in Israel's north
Investigators from the northern district police initiated an intensive and technologically advanced search for the suspects. After a 14-hour pursuit, the perpetrators were eventually captured at separate locations in the northern region - one on Highway 89 and the other near Mount Meron.
The two individuals, both 28 years old and residents of the Salameh and Kamaneh, were taken into custody. They are scheduled to appear before the Magistrate's Court in Kiryat Shmona, where the police will seek an extension of their detention.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir expressed his determination to address the serious issue of protection money extortion, saying, "We will not tolerate such criminal behavior. I commend the police commissioner for the swift and resolute action in apprehending these criminals. Anyone involved in extortion will be brought to justice."
Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai emphasized the gravity of the incident, stating, "This heinous act of arson resulted in the loss of several innocent horses' lives. We will employ all available means to unravel this case and bring those responsible to justice. Thus far, two suspects have been apprehended, and we will continue our relentless fight against the extorition phenomenon."
The commander of the northern district police reiterated the district's unwavering commitment to combating protection money activities. "We have been aggressively pursuing criminals and gangs engaged in extortion," he said. "While today's incident is undoubtedly tragic, we have successfully apprehended the suspects within a few hours. We will persist in our efforts to dismantle these criminal networks until we eradicate this menace from our community."