Police and fire department at Kuseife shuk, January 3, 2014.
(photo credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Gunshots on a quiet Ashdod neighborhood street, a bomb placed in a trash can outside a mobster’s house and an organized crime associate gunned down by police while fleeing a botched mob hit are all part of the latest round of an ongoing mob war in Ashdod that were cleared for publication on Monday.
The details came to light on Monday as the Ashkelon Magistrate’s Court issued a pre-indictment order against one of the suspects, for his alleged role in the attempted killing of a local rival late last month.
The suspect, Bisik Zamir, was arrested after the attempted bombing of rival Yarin Malchiel in the pre-dawn hours of February 27. Police on a stakeout in front of Malchiel’s house saw a man by the name of Omer Ashkenazi arrive around 4 a.m. in a stolen car with a hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head. In his hands he was clutching a bomb, which he then placed inside of a trash can next to the entrance to Malchiel’s house, police said.
At that moment, detectives from the YAMAR Criminal Investigations Unit lying-in wait broke their cover and pounded on Ashkenazi, who managed to get in the stolen car and flee. Police said he then repeatedly rammed the police cars blocking his path, at which point officers opened fire “neutralizing” him.
Ashkenazi was taken for medical treatment and late last week, succumbed to his wounds.
Now, almost two weeks later, Zamir is facing an indictment for attempted murder and other associates of his are expected to be charged for their role in the latest incident of the Ashdod mob war.
The fighting between the two gangs is part of a wider war between southern mob bosses Shalom Domrani and his associates the Lavi brothers from Rehovot and their rival Benny Shlomo.
Domrani, the head of an Ashkelon- and Otzem-based organization, has long been more or less the “King of the South” in the Israeli underworld.
However, in recent years he’s faced a brutal onslaught from Shlomo, a former member of his crew. Shlomo is believed responsible for a series of car bombs against Domrani’s associates in and around Ashkelon in late 2013, and like Domrani, he’s spread his interests beyond the South, making criminal alliances where he sees fit, stealing a sizable chunk of his former boss’s criminal enterprises.
Ashkenazi was an associate of Domrani’s organization, as are Zamir and Shahar Ivgy, while Malchiel works under Shlomo. In addition to the overall feud between their larger patron organizations, the local gangs they belong to have been feuding for some time.
Police say things started to get bloody in August, when Malchiel and Ivgy got into a fistfight on an Ashdod beach. The next month, Ivgy and his associates allegedly stuck a bomb on Malchiel’s car, though it fell off on the street and didn’t explode. Since August, police have followed the suspects closely, trying to prevent a deadly attack on the city’s streets.
The arrest of Ashkenazi was the second mob hit stopped in real time by police from the Lachish subdistrict in the past few months.
On December 15, police arrested an underworld bomb maker who they caught red-handed picking up a bomb that he’d stashed at an Ashkelon Park.
The bomb maker, 38-year-old Adi Mahlouf, was at the park with his wife and baby, and used the cover of the family outing to grab the bomb. He had intended to drive off with it in his car with his wife and baby, police said.
Mahlouf is a freelance bomb maker well known in the underworld. Police say he doesn’t have any organizational allegiances, rather, he works for the highest bidder, selling to warring sides if need be.
After Mahlouf was arrested police then arranged to meet the two men who they suspected of waiting to pick up the bomb. They sent a young female officer to meet with the two men, handing them a dummy bomb. The female agent told reporters she posed as one of Mahlouf’s female admirers, “since Adi is known as someone who has a lot of girls.”
Detectives believe the bomb was to be sold to associates of the Lavi brothers from Rehovot, close associates of Domrani’s. The Lavi brothers have for some time set their eyes on Ashdod and have been trying to muscle their way in on the bottle recycling, gambling and loan sharking run by the “Georgian Gang” in the southern city.
Head of the Southern District, Asst.- Ch. Yoram Halevy, praised the police’s actions that prevented the bombing in Ashdod last month, saying “once again we managed to stop a criminal bombing and keep innocent civilians from getting hurt in the heart of an upscale neighborhood in Ashdod.”