Following two murders, Border Police sent to Lod

Mayor vows to shut down whole city if gov’t doesn’t help take care of crime; Shin Bet to assist police in confiscating weapons from residents.

crime scene (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [illustrative])
crime scene
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [illustrative])
The mayor of Lod threatened on Tuesday to shut the city down completely if the state did not immediately deploy a Border Police force to patrol the crime-ridden town, following the drive-by murders of two residents in the span of 48 hours.
“If they do not deploy a platoon of Border Police officers to Lod, I will shut down the entire city, the schools, everything, and go to Jerusalem to protest to the prime minister,” Mayor Ilan Hariri said Tuesday.
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In response to Hariri’s call, an entire Border Police company has been deployed in the city, and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) will assist police in confiscating weapons from residents, Channel 2 reported on Tuesday night.
Hariri said he hoped the Border Police could help deal with the abundance of illegal firearms in the city and go door-to-door to get the guns off the street. He added that residents were in dire need of greater security and that many were living in a state of fear.
Following Sunday’s murder, Hariri wrote a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in which he called on the state to launch immediate, wide-ranging measures to fight violent crime in the city.
Late Monday night, 27-year-old Emil Halili was sitting in her car with her eight-year-old daughter at a railroad crossing, when she was set upon by unknown assailants who shot her in the head at point-blank range as a passing train muffled the crack of the gunshots.
Halili was pronounced dead at the scene, and her daughter was treated at a nearby hospital after being lightly wounded by broken glass.
Police said Tuesday they did not have any suspects in the crime and that Halili had no criminal record whatsoever.
The investigation is also examining the possibility that the murder was an “honor killing,” not only because of Halili’s lack of a criminal past, but also because several months ago, she filed a police complaint saying she was being harassed by a family member. Halili withdrew the complaint the next day.
The day before Halili was murdered, local resident Sami Hijazi was shot and killed outside Lod’s city hall, also while sitting inside his car. Police stated that the motive for the shooting was criminal, but added that Hijazi had no known criminal record.
Police are currently probing whether there is any sort of connection between the two crimes. When asked whether the back-to-back murders indicated that the violent crime rate in Lod was escalating, police said, “No, also in March there were two days in a row with murders in Lod. Unfortunately, this is not such an exceptional thing for the city.”
Following reports of Monday night’s murder, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch declared he would launch a series of nationwide operations to fight the proliferation of illegal firearms on Israel’s streets.
Aharonovitch called on the army and the Shin Bet to work together with police to fight illegal weaponry, most of which is smuggled in from Egypt and Jordan. He also spoke to IDF officials and asked that they concentrate efforts to police IDF weapons depots, another large source of black-market firearms and explosives.
“The current situation cannot continue. The fight against illegal weapons has been very important up until now, and there is no doubt it will become an even more central focus of police efforts,” he said. “I’ve said in the past, there are places in Israel where if you were to hold a magnet above them, the entire village or town would rise with the magnet.”
Aharonovitch added that “the police have the ability to carry out these operations in an efficient manner, and we are close to carrying out a major operation together with other security services.”