Two suspects were arrested Saturday morning at Ben Gurion Airport after they were apprehended a day earlier in Romania on suspicion that they were involved in a shooting toward the Ayalon Prison in central Israel overnight Thursday, the second such shooting at a prison in two days.
The two fled to Romania but at the request of Israeli police they were detained by local authorities upon landing before being returned to Israel.
A further suspect, a 22-year-old from the Arab Israeli town of Jaljulia, northeast of Tel Aviv, was also arrested Saturday. He is a relative of a gang leader who police believe may have ordered the shooting after being denied leave to attend a funeral, according to the Hadashot news site.
Two additional men have already been arrested by Israeli police in connection with the shooting, and were said by police to also be suspects in a similar shooting on Wednesday that is being investigated as a warning by underworld figures.
Those suspects, aged 23 and 47, were brought before a judge at the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court for a remand hearing, police said. The 23-year-old was remanded for a further 6 days, while the 47-year-old was released to his home.
Police said more suspects would soon be arrested.
Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan spoke with senior Israeli police and prison officials following the shooting and ordered officials to prioritize the investigation into the incident, Hadashot reported.
“The attacks on the prison show the distress of the criminal organizations involved, whose leaders are in jail and have been indicted,” Erdan said. “Not only will the attacks of the members of the organizations not deter us, but they will lead to greater determination in the law enforcement systems to bring the parties to justice.”
During the incident, just after midnight, several bullets hit a guard post next to the headquarters of the prison. The post was manned, but no injuries were reported.
Police said that all those arrested in connection to the shooting were suspected to be members of a Jaljulia-based gang whose leader was denied leave to attend the funeral for his brother three weeks ago. The leader of the gang and others are being held on suspicion of involvement in two murders.
The shooting overnight Thursday was the second attack on a prison compound in just two days and the fourth since August. Early on Wednesday morning, a similar drive-by shooting took place at the Rimonim Prison near Tel Aviv.
The shootings, officials said, were seen as a “warning” to Prisons Service officials who have been clamping down on the activities of criminal organizations inside the prison in recent months.
The more recent incidents are suspected to be part of the same campaign against prison officials.
The crime organization believed to be responsible for the attacks had “crossed all red lines,” officials said Wednesday.
“Our assessment is that this is the work of criminal organizations we are operating against, that have abandoned any restraints they had and are willing to occasionally carry out serious attacks, including shootings toward prison walls and verbal and other threats against officers and jailers in the Prisons Service, in a bid to control them through intimidation,” they said.
In early October a bomb exploded inside a car belonging to the head of one of the wings of Rimonim Prison while it was parked near her home in Netanya. No one was hurt in the attack, but the car sustained heavy damage.
The officer targeted in the bombing oversees the section of the prison that houses the members of the criminal organization suspected in last week’s shooting.