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Police suspect criminal motive in shooting deaths of 2 Israelis

JERUSALEM, Sept. 3 (JTA) – Two Israelis were shot dead this week near here in what appeared to be a settling of accounts between loan collectors. Police Commissioner Assaf Hefetz said Wednesday that while security forces were still investigating all possible motives – including terrorism – there were strong indications that the background to the shooting was criminal. According to police and witnesses, the first man, a Jerusalem resident, was shot at close range by assailants on a road near Kibbutz Ma’aleh Hahamisha, which is close to the West Bank. Another man, identified as Ilan Dvash, a gardener, apparently drove by in his truck and stopped to help the first man. Dvash was then shot as well. Witnesses who arrived at the scene said they saw Dvash in his truck, slumped over the wheel. The first man, whose name was not immediately released but whose identity was known to police, was lying by the side of the road, witnesses said. Police indicated that it was possible that the mob-style murder of the first man had to do with a dispute between loan collectors and money changers. Police found several thousand dollars on the body of the first man. Police were searching for a taxi with Israeli license plates that witnesses said they saw fleeing the scene toward the territories. Several weeks ago, an Israeli woman was injured in a shooting in the area. Wednesday’s incident came amid heightened security alerts in the wake of the July 30 twin suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed 15 Israelis.

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