Crime boss Shalom Domrani to remain in police custody over Netivot election case

Rabbi Yoram Abergil released to house arrest, banned from entering Netivot.

November 18, 2013 03:22
2 minute read.
Yoram Abergil

Yoram Abergil. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Southern crime boss Shalom Domrani will remain in custody for three more days, after his remand was extended a second time in a tangled case involving allegations he conspired with a Netivot rabbi to threaten a rival rabbi and influence the recent mayoral election.

The remands of four other men – two Domrani associates, an aide of Rabbi Yoram Abergil and the rabbi’s brother Avner – were also extended on Sunday afternoon for three days.

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The case involves allegations that Domrani threatened the “X-ray rabbi” Ya’acov Ifergan, on behalf of his longtime rival Netivot Rabbi Yoram Abergil.

Ifergan and Abergil supported rival mayoral candidates in the October 22 vote, and police believe the threats allegedly made by Domrani and his people represent a grave example of organized crime using violence or the threat of violence to influence Israeli democracy.

On Sunday, Abergil was released to house arrest. He posted bond and must stay out of Netivot for the time being.

During the hearing, Domrani’s lawyer Moshe Sherman asked police about a statement Domrani made to Ifergan’s aide, telling him that “people are trying to hurt Rabbi Abergil, and this could end differently.” What this what they were referring to when they said Domrani had threatened the rabbi, Sherman asked.

The police representative said yes.

Domrani also said he received a call from Ifergan’s sister Bruriya Zvulon, a well-known rebbetzin and borer (“arbitrator”) for the underworld. He said they spoke for eight or nine minutes, and that he then called Ifergan from his wife’s phone, knowing that it would be tapped by police.

“The rabbi told me to come and see him and speak to him, otherwise why would I go if he didn’t ask me? There’s been a wiretap on this phone for years and suddenly now there’s no recording?,” Domrani asked police in court.

Zvulon was placed on house arrest on Friday, on suspicion of tampering with the investigation. She is staying at a hotel in the central region, police said in court on Sunday.

Last Saturday, police arrested Domrani at his house in Moshav Otzem, in the Lachish region, and stopped Abergil from boarding a plane to China at Ben- Gurion Airport. They arrested five other suspects including members of Domrani’s organization, part of a case that Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch made public on Saturday.

Aharonovitch said police had arrested a major organized crime leader, and the next day it emerged that the case was linked to threats Domrani allegedly made against Ifergen, who supported candidate Ayal Mesika in the recent election. His opponent Yehiel Zohar was supported by Abergil.

Zohar won his sixth consecutive term with 58.4 percent of the votes, against 41.6 percent for Mesika.

Police believe that Abergil had Domrani threaten people close to Ifergen, including having him contact the rabbi and his associates to “send them a message.”

The arrest of Abergil has sparked large protests by his followers in Netivot and elsewhere, including one on Saturday night in Jerusalem during which hundreds of supporters gathered at the Bar- Ilan junction, with some throwing rocks. Police arrested 28 people.

Also last week, protests were held in Ashkelon and outside the headquarters of the police’s LAHAV 433 National Crime Unit in Lod, where Abergil was being held.

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