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(photo credit: Channel 10)
Organized crime boss Francois Abutbul was shot dead at a gas station in Moshav Havatzelet Hasharon on Route 2 near Netanya late on Saturday night, in a slaying that has rocked the criminal world.
Police are concerned that the shooting could touch off a wave of criminal assassinations and are monitoring the underworld closely in an effort to prevent further violence.
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Two men on a motorcycle arrived at the gas station, where Abutbul pulled up in a black Mazda, and opened fire.
Abutbul was mortally wounded, while his bodyguard, who was also in the car, was lightly injured from shrapnel. The hit men sped away.
Magen David Adom paramedics tried to resuscitate Abutbul, but he died on the way to Laniado Medical Center in Netanya.
Police set up roadblocks in an effort to capture the suspects in the minutes after the shooting.
The National Serious and International Crimes Unit has taken charge of the investigation.
Abutbul’s brother Asi, born in 1975, was arrested in 2006 and is serving an 18-year prison sentence for heading up the family’s crime organization, extortion and money laundering, He was denied permission to attend his brother’s funeral by the Prisons Service due to fears that he would be targeted by rivals, but is expected to be allowed family visits.
The Abutbul family turned down a police request to carry out an autopsy, citing religious concerns, but said coroners could extract bullets from the body to assist the investigation.
Francois Abutbul had been involved in a long-standing feud with another Netanyabased underworld figure, Rico Shirazi, until the men attended a reconciliation meeting at the home of a rabbi in mid-July.
Days after the meeting, Abutbul was called to the offices of the National Serious and International Crimes Unit in Lod together with his uncle Charlie, where the two men were warned by police that their lives were in danger from assassination attempts by rivals.
Abutbul reportedly dismissed the warning as an attempt by police to sabotage his reconciliation with Shirazi.
In December 2010, Abutbul was released from jail after serving a 22-month sentence for assaulting his wife.
The following month, Abutbul received a warning that Shirazi, together with other elements, would try to harm him if he did not stay away from Netanya and did not cease efforts to rebuild his power there.
Shortly after the release, police carried out a wave of arrests of mob chiefs as part of a bid to prevent a crime war. Both Abutbul and Shirazi were arrested, but were later released.
Abutbul’s father, Felix “Baiza” Abutbul, 51, then the reputed king of
the Netanya underworld, was murdered at a Prague casino in 2002 by a
In 2008, Charlie Abutbul was seriously wounded in an assassination
attempt at a Netanya kiosk. He survived the attack. Three civilians were
In 2010, Charlie Abutbu was shot at by unidentified men riding on a motorcycle in Netanya.
The Bat Haikar (Farmer’s Daughter) restaurant in Netanya’s industrial
zone, which is owned by the Abutbul family, has been the target of
several arson attacks.
During the latest attempt to damage it in May, unidentified men poured
flammable material on the restaurant and tried to set it on fire, but
were unsuccessful, police said.