Weekend shootings in South leave two dead, five wounded

Two men were killed and five others wounded - one critically - in two separate shooting incidents in the South on Friday night. Meanwhile, in Eilat, a 19-year-old policewoman was seriously wounded after being accidentally struck in the head with an iron pipe as she attempted to break up a fight on the city's boardwalk, police said. In the first of a spate of violent incidents, a disagreement on a crowded dance floor inside the Manhattan nightclub in Arad's industrial district turned deadly when a man opened fire on a group of revellers. Yuri Tzarkeshin, 28, from Beersheba was critically wounded, and two other men in their 30s were lightly wounded. Shortly after 1:00 a.m., a verbal altercation followed by fistfights broke out between groups on the crowded dance floor. Shots then rang out over the melee, sending panicked clubbers running in every direction, witnesses said. Magen David Adom paramedics rushed Tzarkeshin and two other gunshot victims to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where, according to hospital officials, Tzarkeshin arrived without a pulse and not breathing. Despite intense efforts to resuscitate him, Tzarkeshin succumbed to his wounds. The two other men were reported to be lightly wounded and in stable condition. A 40-year-old Arad resident suspected in the shooting was arrested, along with two other suspects, police said. Arad station commander Ch.-Supt. Tomer Badesh ordered that the nightclub, which Arad residents say has been the scene of violent incidents in the past, be closed for a month. "There are still several things we need to check, such as why was this individual allowed to enter the club with a weapon, and even more so - why was there not a security guard on duty?" Badesh said. The owners of the club could not be reached for comment. In another shooting, a farm owner in the Negev fired on a group of men who allegedly trespassed on his property, killing Khaled al-Atrash, 31, who had recently been released from prison after serving four years for agricultural theft, police said. Police and Border Police units were dispatched to Shai Farms in the northern Negev after gunfire was reported in the area and discovered the farmer attempting to resuscitate Atrash, who nevertheless died shortly thereafter. The second man arrived by ambulance in critical but stable condition at Soroka, hospital officials said. The farm owner, 50, told police that four men, apparently Negev Beduin, had arrived at the farm, poisoned a guard dog, and broken a lock on one of his sheep pens. He told detectives that a similar incident had occurred a month earlier. The farmer told police that he had fired warning shots to scare off the suspected burglars after they entered the yard, and only later realized that he had hit two of them. The other two trespassers were apparently wounded, but managed to flee the scene. Police detained the farmer for further questioning. "The burglar's death was expected considering the police's helplessness in preventing agricultural thefts in the south," chairman of the Negev Development Council Shmuel Rifman said Saturday evening. According to Rifman, there has been a dramatic increase in agricultural theft - from cattle to expensive equipment and copper tubing - in the Negev. Rifman said an increase in detective work and intelligence would greatly help decrease agricultural theft by local Beduin, since only a few specific groups are thought to be responsible for a majority of the crimes. Meanwhile, Rifman said, farm owners could be expected to take steps to protect their livelihoods. "Regrettably, with the constant agricultural crime, this was the first, but most likely will not be the last such incident," Rifman said. Elsewhere, weekend violence reached Eilat, where a policewoman was hit with an iron pipe overnight Thursday as she attempted to break up a fight on the city's boardwalk. Officer Sivan Martziano, 19, and a second police officer were attempting to separate the two men involved when a 40-centimeter pipe that one of the combatants had been waving flew from his hand and struck her, knocking her unconscious. Additional officers and an ambulance were dispatched to the scene, which culminated in the arrest of a 28-year-old Eilat resident with a history of violence. Martziano was evacuated to Yosephtal Hospital in Eilat, where she was treated for a shattered eye socket and listed in stable condition, police said.