Political leaders flocked on Friday morning to the bedside of Acre Mayor Shimon Lankri, who survived an assassination attempt in what doctors describe as a lucky escape.
Late Thursday, a masked gunman shot Lankri in the chest from close range when the mayor stopped his car at a traffic light near the Kafr Yasif junction, in the vicinity of his northern Israeli hometown. He managed to call rescue services and was whisked by ambulance to a hospital in Nahariya, in serious but stable condition.
Hospital director Dr. Massad Barhoum said Lankri was fully conscious and “out of danger.”
“Lankri came in around 1:30 AM, shot in the chest. The bullet hit the chest and exited through the left armpit causing no damage to the major blood vessels,” said Barhoum, adding that had the bullet swerved by mere millimeters, the outcome could have been still more grave.
Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch was among the visitors at the Nahariya Hospital for the Western Galilee’s intensive care unit. “This is a very serious incident,” Aharonovitch said. “We realize its gravity and intend to apprehend those responsible,” continued the minister.
“Mayors are more vulnerable to criminal assaults and should be given proper protection so they can perform their duties,” Aharonovitch added, noting that there are also dozens of police officers operating under constant threat.
Newly appointed Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar wished Lankri a speedy recovery, saying the “grave and disturbing incident” was “another in a series of recent violent attacks aimed at local officials.” The minister was cited by Ynet as saying he intended to take emergency measures against the violence.
Miri Regev, the newly appointed chairwoman of the Knesset’s Interior Committee, said she planned to gather the committee for an urgent discussion of instances of violence against local officials. “Violence against elected officials is crossing a red line again in Israel,” the outspoken MK was quoted by Channel 10 News as saying. “I wish the Acre mayor a speedy recovery and resumption of activities.”
In August of 2012, police recommended that a guard detail be assigned to Lankri due to threats over his decision to close a horse farm.
More recently, a man was arrested after intelligence garnered by police indicated that he intended to attack Lankri with a grenade. The man was questioned and later released, and there was no indication of a connection with Thursday’s shooting.
Lankri, a former career officer in the IDF, was first elected mayor of Acre in 2003.