A day after a man was gunned down in a hail of bullets on the Tel Aviv seafront, two members of a rival Jaffa clan were brought before a Tel Aviv judge on Sunday, suspected of being linked to the murder.
The two men, Ziad Hamad and Osama Hanun were arrested a few hours after the shooting in Jaffa, and on Sunday they were ordered kept in custody for three additional days.
Hamad is a relative of 47-year-old Izat Hamad, the most powerful crime boss in Jaffa. The Hamad family has for years waged a deadly feud with the Ayash syndicate, which has seen a number of shootings in the city in recent years.
On Saturday the feud took the life of 28-year-old Taher Lala, a man well-known to Tel Aviv detectives and reputedly an enforcer for the Ayash clan.
Hamad and Hanun’s attorney Eitan On questioned police in court on Sunday, stating that gunpowder residue tests given to his clients showed they had not handled a firearm or any metal objects in the six hours prior to their arrest and that both had alibis.
The YAMAR Central Investigative Unit detective present said that police had intelligence linking the two men to the shooting, but would not divulge what evidence they have to keep the men in custody.
The lawyer painted the arrest of his clients as a PR move by police, meant to answer public outrage following the brazen daylight shooting in Tel Aviv.
“Its no secret that recently police have been under serious criticism towards their ability to fight crime and in order to send a message that they’re in control of the situation, they decided to arrest two innocent men who had no connection to the crime,” said On.
Sunday’s killing was the second deadly gangland incident in Tel Aviv in less than week, following a car bomb in Kfar Shalem that killed Ezra Mizrahi last Saturday night. It joins a long list of underworld hits in Israel in recent months, including 10 car bombs since late October.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the gang wars on Sunday morning, saying that criminals – not the country’s citizens – need to run scared.
“We are determined to uproot this very grave phenomena,” Netanyahu said of the underworld violence that this month alone has included seven separate car bombing incidents, killing three people.
“We give our full backing to the police to operate with existing means, and with new ones, against organized crime.
Israeli citizens are not the ones who need to be concerned about walking freely on the streets, the members, patrons and ‘soldiers’ of the crime families need to be worried, and they must be put in jail quickly.”