Suspected car thieves ram three police vehicles

A suspected car thief drove his vehicle into a police officer from the Taiba Station on Monday morning, the second time in twelve hours that a fugitive used his car as a weapon to strike officers trying to arrest him. Hours later, detectives trying to locate the vehicle were struck by another suspect's vehicle. Residents of the Israeli Arab city later pelted the officers with stones. The morning attack took place during a routine operation aimed at intercepting stolen cars as they entered Taiba. The city is a regional center for "chop shops," where stolen cars are disassembled for parts to be sold in Israel or in the Palestinian Authority. For the operation targeting stolen cars, officers set up checkpoints at all of the entrances to the city, flagging down suspicious vehicles for investigation. When police signaled one such vehicle to stop, the driver increased his speed and drove on to the curb, striking a veteran police officer and throwing him into the air. The officer suffered multiple skull fractures and other injuries. He was in moderate condition at Petah Tikva's Beilinson Medical Center on Monday night. Hours later, a 22-year-old Taiba resident was arrested on suspicion of driving the vehicle and intentionally hitting the police officer. He admitted to running into the officer, but said it was an accident. The suspect will be brought to the Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court on Tuesday for a remand extension. Sharon-area police said the suspect had prior offenses involving auto theft and larceny. A vehicle believed to one involved was found in the early afternoon, completely destroyed by fire, in an orchard in the eastern part of the city. Police said they were searching for a second person who was seen in the vehicle whom they believe was an accessory to both the theft and to the attack against the officer. Earlier, while police were combing Taiba for the vehicle involved in the morning's attack, a detective team noticed two men stripping parts from an expensive vehicle that the officers believed was stolen, and putting the parts into a second vehicle. When they saw the detectives, the two men fled in the vehicle, hitting their patrol car as well as a wall before being stopped by the detectives. But when the officers attempted to arrest the men, a large number of local residents assembled and began to throw rocks at the officers in what police described as an attempt to "free" the officers. The detectives called in reinforcements from the Taiba Station, who dispersed the crowd without further incident. Hours earlier in Wadi Ara, a taxi driver caught ferrying Palestinians working illegally in Israel also attempted to evade arrest by driving into a police volunteer and then slamming into his patrol car. Three police volunteers from the Iron Station noticed the driver of a taxi acting suspiciously near the Barta'a Junction. The volunteers said that when the taxi driver realized that he had attracted their attention, he led them on a brief chase before being caught near the entrance to Katzir. One volunteer got out of the patrol car and motioned for the taxi driver to stop. The taxi driver, tried to flee again and hit the volunteer, and then, according to police, attempted to deliberately ram the police car. The 50-year-old taxi driver, a Tamra resident, was arrested on the scene. Police discovered he had been trying to smuggle three Palestinian illegal workers into Israel. The driver and the three illegal workers were all taken to the Hadera Magistrate's Court for remand extensions on Monday morning. Both the volunteer who was struck by the taxi and the two volunteers who were in the patrol car when it was struck were taken to Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera, where they were listed in good condition. Also on Monday, a man who drove into a police patrol car in May was given a 20-month sentence - of which he will serve at least eight months in prison. The driver, Rami Haj Yahiya, 32, disregarded police instructions to stop for inspection as he drove on Tel Aviv's Rehov Hamasger. Instead, he rammed his vehicle into the patrol car, wounding one policeman. Yahiya fled the scene and was later apprehended by police.