A father and son from Holon have been running a highly sophisticated bomb-making ring that supplied dozens of explosives to organized crime figures in the country’s Center over the past year, police revealed Tuesday.

The case became public on Tuesday when police sappers, detectives and SWAT officers carried out a series of raids in Holon, Petah Tikva and Yavne, during which they arrested 19 suspects.

At a police briefing the same day, the Tel Aviv branch of the YAMAR investigative unit called the operation “one of the largest and most sophisticated explosives labs ever caught,” and trumpeted the investigation as having prevented large-scale bloodshed of both criminals and law-abiding civilians.

Israel Radio reported Tuesday night that the bomb-making ring packed nails and screws into the explosives to maximize damage, a tactic used by suicide bombers. According to the report, they applied international methods of bomb-making that could have caused mass loss of life.

The central suspect is 18- year-old Holon resident Moti Senyor, who police say ran the lab for the past year out of his parents’ apartment with the cooperation of his father, Shimon Senyor.

While police described the operation as one of the most advanced in the country’s history, they also said that the younger Senyor – who is under house arrest at his parents’ home – learned his know-how from the Internet, including how to construct remote-detonated explosives.

Police believe the teen sold dozens of such explosive devices to criminals in the Center for between NIS 2,000 and NIS 4,000 each, depending on their weight.

According to police, the operation involved the Senyor family on the manufacturing level, as well as the 50-year-old owner of a Petah Tikva fireworks company who supplied remote controls and explosive material. There were also dealers and delivery men who distributed dozens of the devices to customers over the past year, police said.

One of the suspects is a 16- year-old who police said was a courier for the explosives. In addition, two soldiers on active duty were arrested last week while allegedly transporting a bomb to an undisclosed location in the Center.

The latter incident occurred last Wednesday night, when police performing a stake-out on the Senyor house saw a cab driver pull up and hand over a package to two men on a motorcycle, who placed the package under the seat and tore off at high speed.

The observing officers, who included Ch.-Supt. Yoav Kotler of YAMAR Tel Aviv, gave chase after the motorcycle, which began making its way toward Rishon Lezion. Detectives managed to corner the motorcycle and arrest the two soldiers.

According to police, sappers at the scene were shocked to discover that the device was already loaded and set to go off at the press of a button.

While police were reluctant to give up names of the criminals who had purchased the explosives, they said one of them was a convict currently serving a 12- year sentence, who had ordered dozens of bombs to take out his rivals from behind bars.

Tel Aviv Police said Tuesday that the police sappers who had detonated the explosives confiscated from the ring had determined that they “are powerful, complicated devices with the ability to cause massive loss of life.”

They added that both the Senyor family home and the fireworks warehouse were located in densely packed residential areas. If an accidental explosion had taken place, police said, buildings could have crumpled to the ground, taking the lives of innocent neighbors – including two infant twins who investigators said slept in a room on the other side of a main wall of the Petah Tikva factory.

Though police described the bomb-making houses as posing a clear and present danger to their general surroundings, they admitted that they had been staking out the two houses and known about the operation for at least two months before they moved in.

During the remand extension at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, Moti Senyor and two other defendants came before the judge, including 19- year-old Marcus Ariel, who wore a black kippa and covered his face with a tallit as photographers crowded around the three for pictures.

Most of the chief defendants in the case are described as being friends and relatives of the younger Senyor, a number of them teenagers. Considering the police description of the ring as one of the most sophisticated criminal weaponry labs ever busted in Israel, the defendants looked remarkably unsophisticated: mainly skinny teenagers in board shorts and sweatpants, hiding their faces from the cameras and asking if they could take a bag of food and snacks brought by relatives back to jail with them. Detectives denied the request.

A detective in the courthouse on Tuesday admitted that lab tests still had not returned conclusive results that the seized material was in fact explosives, though he said he had received assurances from police sappers that there was little doubt about the nature of the contraband.

Senyor’s lawyer seized on this fact, saying that her client had told her and police that the raw materials were not explosives, but supplies to make decorative artwork – a hobby that Senyor said he had learned on the Internet.

Under questioning, the detective also admitted that a different police unit than YAMAR had performed a raid on the Senyor house a month earlier, though he said he was not sure what the unit had been looking for or what was found. He added that the raid in question had not been connected to the alleged bomb-making ring.

As of Tuesday night, the remand hearings were still ongoing, though a number of the suspects had their remands extended until Wednesday and Thursday.

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