ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Man shot dead in Beersheba after trying to steal police officer’s weapon

Suspect may have been intoxicated at time of incident, which officials are not treating as an attempted terror attack

Man shot dead in Beersheba after trying to steal police officer's weapon, February 5, 2024 (Social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Man shot dead in Beersheba after trying to steal police officer's weapon, February 5, 2024 (Social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A man in his 30s was shot and killed by a police officer while trying to steal the cop’s weapon in the southern city of Beersheba on Monday morning, police said.

The incident, which officers were not investigating as an attempted terror attack, began early Monday when a resident of the central city of Tira threatened to commit suicide, then stole a traffic police squad car, triggering a car chase, a police spokesperson said in a statement shortly after the incident.

After eluding the forces in the area of Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center, the man abandoned the vehicle in a parking lot and continued on foot, the Ynet news site reported. A short while later, he started a disturbance in the streets, attacking passersby and shouting “Allahu akbar” (“God is greatest), the police spokesperson said.

Police forces arrived and tried to arrest the man, using a taser in an attempt to subdue him. During the arrest, the man attacked one of the officers and attempted to steal the weapon of another.

An officer at the scene then fired a warning shot into the air and another at the man’s leg, police said, adding without further details that the suspect was taken for medical treatment, during which he was pronounced dead.

According to Hebrew media reports, the man may have been intoxicated at the time of the incident.

Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Speaking to Ynet, eyewitness Rotem Peretz said the events reminded her of October 7, when thousands of terrorists burst into Israel from Gaza and massacred some 1,200 people.

“They sprayed him with tear gas first but it didn’t help,” Peretz recalled. “Then there were shots and he was neutralized. They tried to subdue him for 15 minutes without success. The police officers shouted something at him but I didn’t hear what. [Another] officer shouted, ‘Shoot him in the legs.’ It was utter chaos.”

Following the incident, Southern District police commander Deputy Commissioner Amir Cohen instructed the commander of the Negev region police force to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir praised the Beersheba police officers for the way they handled the incident.

“This is exactly how one should act — with vigilance and composure,” the far-right minister wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Our police officers toil day and night to provide security to the citizens of Israel.”

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