By Yaniv Kubovich, Haaretz Correspondent
Last update - 08:36 23/02/2010
Friday, 10 P.M., Tira. The streets are almost deserted as a man in his 40s approaches the window of the Toyota driven by Jawad Kabalan, a young deputy inspector from Beit Jann who serves in the Eyal Border Police unit. Kabalan stops the car.
"What's up?" asks Kabalan.
"Everything is fine," says the man. "Maybe you'll join us here for half an hour or so. I've got something on the fire."
Kabalan ignores the invitation and replies in a businesslike way: "It'll be fine, don't worry - we're here, patrolling."
He drives on and explains: The welcoming passerby has a 17-year-old daughter. A married man from Taibeh, the father of children, asked to marry her - but the father refused. "Since then, they've shot at his house a number of times and he is afraid they will kill him, so he wants us to sit with him a while," explains Kabalan. "Here you don't need to be a big criminal to get shot at. Here it's enough to say 'no' to someone who thinks you should be saying 'yes.'"
The distress of the inhabitants of the towns of Taibeh and Tira at the increasing violence on their streets recently prompted some of them to turn to the police for help. The incident of the shooting at a school bus in Kafr Qasem last October also did its part, and Israel Police Commissioner David Cohen convened an emergency meeting on the issue. At the meeting the police's Central District decided on "Operation Opening Shot", with the aim of restoring a sense of security to the inhabitants of the two towns. In the context of the operation two Border Police companies - Eyal and Adir - would be deployed, working in tandem with the Taibeh police, and their entire role would be to collect weapons held illegally in Taibeh and Tira.
One weekend spent with the forces in the field shows that the number of incidents with which the Taibeh police station deals could definitely provide full-time work for an entire Central District precinct.
Thursday, 3 P.M. Chief Inspector Rotem Gil, an intelligence and investigations officer in the Taibeh police, convenes his policemen for a briefing. A childish sketch on a small blackboard shows the house to which the detectives will be setting out, where the person who is "wanted" lives. In their jargon, "wanted" means "wanted for questioning." This is a young man of 22 from Tira who is living in Samara and recently evaded a murder attempt, and the police suspect he is about to take revenge on whoever tried to kill him.
The sketch doesn't really interest the detectives and Gil. Most of them have been serving there for years now, and when someone is sought, everyone knows who he is, where he lives and who his neighbors are.
"We're going to Samara," Gil tells the policemen. "You know who's involved and I want you to keep your eyes wide open."
7 P.M. Eli Tefillin, commander of the Eyal company, goes out to brief his soldiers at Bahbouh square in Tira - the main drag where all the inhabitants pass by. "I want everyone to see that we're here and that we're working here," says Tefillin. "It's important to me that all those people who want to have quiet in their homes know we're here for them."
11 P.M. One of the two teams under Kabalan's command stops a fellow who is considered a leading soldier in a large Tira crime family - the Shafiq family. The young fellow seems to throw something away, but a search by the policemen yields nothing. The fellow does not identify Kabalan as an Arabic-speaker and in a phone call to his friend he explains he has "thrown what needed to be thrown." Kabalan decides to leave a surveillance team there.
More cameras than in Dubai
11:20 P.M. Over the police radio comes word of the seizure of a pistol. Kabalan sets out immediately for the scene. On a dirt road Border Police forces have stopped a Volkswagen with three young men from the Abdel Kader family, a large crime family in Taibeh. The driver was sitting with a loaded pistol between his legs. Kabalan arrives, gives compliments where they are due, takes the pistol and the arrested man, and heads for the police station.
Friday, 10 P.M. Policemen from the Police Special Anti-Terror Unit ("Yassam"), who are very familiar with all the roads and neighborhoods in the area, come in as reinforcements. They head for Taibeh. The first person the police see is detained. Itai Mansour, the commander of the force, says his movements seemed suspicious and orders him to empty his pockets. Suddenly a large knife falls from his pocket, along with drugs that were in his possession. The fellow is loaded into a police van.
The force has been joined by Chief Inspector Majid Fares, an officer in the Adir company who lives in the village of Rameh.
"Do you know where we are?" he asks. "This is 'Murder Square', this is where the big war between Hariri and Abdel Kader began. Three people were murdered here, and one of the biggest conflicts began in fact because someone didn't give the right of way here."
The number of security cameras in Taibeh is no less than the number in Dubai. In the Abdel Kader compound dozens of security cameras have been installed along the street, and the house resembles the set of "The Big Brother" on Channel 2. There are more shooting incidents in Taibeh than in any other place in the Triangle; anyone who fears being shot has placed boulders on the road near his home to prevent drive-by shootings. Others have gone so far as to erect concrete barriers like the ones at Israel Defense Forces roadblocks.
Saturday, 1:50 A.M. A group of men in their 20s congregates in a residential neighborhood of Taibeh. The police check identity cards and ask what they are doing there. One asks Fares in Arabic to talk to him privately, and Fares agrees. In the car, he explains: "He asked me why it is that recently there are police here all the time. We will be here until it is no longer strange to him, and then I will say we have succeeded."
Mosque in Taibeh, Israel -
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