Mayor’s son among those arrested for gunfire toward police cars in Rahat

Local leader criticizes authorities for failing to deal with illegal weapons in the town and not intervening earlier, says son is innocent but cops trying to send a message

The scene after a shooting toward police cars in the southern town of Rahat, April 9, 2020 (Screen grab/Channel 13)
The scene after a shooting toward police cars in the southern town of Rahat, April 9, 2020 (Screen grab/Channel 13)

The son of the mayor was among 13 suspects arrested after two policemen were lightly injured Thursday in the southern Bedouin town of Rahat when their vehicle came under fire by armed gunmen. The police had been attempting to break up a family feud.

Anas Abu Sahiban, son of Rahat mayor Faiz Abu Sahiban, has been remanded until Tuesday.

“My children are not criminals,” Faiz told Channel 13 news. “It’s a personal arrest. He was arrested because I’m criticizing the police, they want to send me a message.”

Faiz said the police have failed to deal with the problem of illegal weapons in the community and had ignored the dispute despite threats and violence prior to Thursday’s incident.

View of the Bedouin city of Rahat in southern Israel, on April 8, 2019 (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

On Thursday, cops responded to a fight between the two families over land, that involved gunfire between the clans. Upon their arrival officers were fired upon with an automatic rifle. Two police cars were damaged and two policemen required medical attention due to injures caused by broken glass.

Hundreds of police were then called to the scene. Police said 13 people were subsequently arrested on suspicion of involvement in gunfire, threats on social media and possession of arms. Twenty-two others were detained for assaulting and obstructing police.

Recent months have seen a wave of crime and killings in the Arab Israeli community.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference about the coronavirus, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on March 25, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Arab leaders say police largely ignore the violence in their communities, which include family feuds, mafia turf wars, domestic violence and so-called honor killings.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later called Thursday’s incident “very severe. The State of Israel will not stand attacks on police… I have spoken with the public security minister and demanded the outlaws be brought to justice.”

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the incident required “a resolute response” against those “acting out wildly in Rahat.”

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