Israel braces for crime war after mobster dies in car bomb

Israel Materials 18 November 2008 00:35 (UTC +04:00)

Israeli police were bracing Monday night for an all-out mob war, after a powerful car bomb killed the head of one of the country's most powerful and prominent crime families earlier in the day, dpa reported.

Yakov Alperon, 54, died when the bomb ripped through the vehicle he was traveling in, on the corner of Yehuda Hamaccabi street and Namir road in north Tel Aviv, shortly before noon. Three bystanders were lightly wounded in the explosion.

He was killed as he was returning from the Tel Aviv Magistrate's court, where an indictment had been filed against his son Dror, for blackmail and attacking a policeman.

Alperon had no shortage of enemies, including the man regarded as Israel's most famous criminal, Zeev Rosenstein, who in 2006 was extradited to the US on drug charges, and the Abergil and Abutbul families, with whom the Alperon family had been engaged in a crime war.

Alperon also recently fell out with another mobster, Amir Mulner.

Alperon had in the past been the intended victim of many assassination attempts, including a grenade thrown at his house in 2001 and a car bomb two years later.

Four Belarusian citizens were indicted in 2004 for trying to kill him, and last year police defused a bomb found in the car of his son, Elad.

"The Alperon family members will find out where it (the bomb) came from, and then they'll respond," former Tel Aviv police chief David Tzur told the Ynet news site.

He believed there would not be an "immediate or instinctive response" to the bombing, since the family "is not like other crime organizations," which usually hire hitmen "to do the job for them," but "carries out its own conflicts."

Israeli mob families have no scruples about settling scores in public, often wounding and even killing innocent bystanders in the process.

News of Alperon's death dominated the news in Israel Monday, with the country's two commercial news channels devoting about half their hour-long bulletins to it.