Toddler hurt in botched Acre hit

Five arrested after café shooting; target, bystander in moderate condition.

murder crime scene 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 2 (file))
murder crime scene 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 2 (file))
Another innocent bystander was caught in the cross fire of gang violence in Israel on Monday, when three masked men opened fire in a café in the Old City of Acre, moderately wounding a three-year-old boy who was caught by a bullet outside the café as he was on his way to school.
The bullet grazed the ear of Suleiman Shalbi, who was being carried in his father’s arms. Another bullet pierced Suleiman’s sister Asama’s backpack, but caused the girl no injury.
The man who police say was the target of the shooting, a local 26-year-old reputed criminal, was hit in the thigh, and he and Shalbi were rushed to Nahariya Government Hospital in moderate condition.
After the shooting, police descended in force on the Old City and dispatched a helicopter to help the search. Shortly thereafter, police arrested five suspects in connection with the shooting, which they say was linked to a fight between two rival crime families in the city. An Acre court extended the remand of three of the suspects by three days and two others by a single day, pending further investigation.
Police said Monday that not all five were necessarily involved in the shooting but may be involved in the incidents behind it or have intelligence about it. Police added that everyone involved in the shooting is well known to police.
A police spokesperson for the Galilee region told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that police do not see the incident as indicating any serious escalation in gangland warfare in the city, and are not gearing up for a series of vendettas.
The spokesperson also said the incident does not indicate that Acre is becoming more violent, citing figures that say violent crime has gone down 30 percent in the past year in the city.
The spokesperson added that the feeling of security held by local residents is still very high, as indicated in part by the way the Old City is packed with tourists every weekend.
The spokesperson added that police consider the incident very severe, but say it is not part of a wider escalation, rather it is the sort of isolated event that happens occasionally following tensions between crime families in the city.
Monday’s shooting isn’t the first time gunshots have rocked Acre’s Old City in recent months. In late December, three men smoking a hookah in a café in the Old City were hit by an unknown assailant. One of the men was rushed to the hospital in serious condition and the other two in moderate condition.
The next day, a 30-year-old local man was shot and killed in a café in the Old City, in what police said was a reprisal attack for the shooting the day before. The man was rushed to Nahariya Government Hospital but died shortly thereafter.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.