Monday’s car bomb in Rehovot that
left a father and son badly wounded is the latest act in an ongoing gang war in
the region between rival gangs and their allies in Southern Israel, police said
in court in Ramle on Tuesday.
Police cast a wide net on Monday, arresting
underworld figures on both sides of a gang war that has been a top priority of
Central District Investigators and has left three people dead.
victims include Yisrael Amar, shot dead in broad daylight on Rehovot’s main
street in April. In court on Tuesday sat not only seven members of the Lavai
family, which is believed to be behind Amar’s killing, but also a close relative
of Amar and an Abergil family member, both from the opposite side of the gang
Addressing the judge on Tuesday, a Central District Detective said
“since 2009 this conflict has left three people dead and it stopped being
personal a long time ago. We believe that there are people being targeted now
who aren’t directly involved in the conflict with either side, rather they
happen to be affiliates with one side or another.”
He added “police have
decided to have zero tolerance towards this conflict” A quiet city in central
Israel, Rehovot has been a rather unlikely setting of a bloody gang war that
pits the Lavai family against its rivals, who are affiliated with the Shlomo
brothers from Moshav Heletz.
The Lavai family are closely- tied to Shalom
Domrani’s Ashkelon-based organization, the former home of the Shlomo brothers,
who broke off and started their own rival gang a couple years ago. In the time
since, the rivalry between the Shlomo brothers and Domrani has played out in car
bombs in central Ashkelon but also in the proxy war that has taken place in
Rehovot and elsewhere in central Israel.
By the end of the first hearing,
the police request for a 13 day remand extension had fallen through, and police
ordered four suspects kept in custody for 24 hours only. Three other suspects,
from Netivot and Ashkelon, were released outright.
Also on Tuesday, an
additional police organized crime case appears in danger of falling through,
when a Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court judge ordered the release of Ben Cohen a
top associate of mobster Amir Mulner, who was arrested last week as part of a
highly-publicized money laundering and extortion case.
Mizrahi ruled that the police case did not contain enough evidence to keep Cohen
in custody, and ordered him released on bond.
Cohen is one of the more
prominent underworld figures in the Tel Aviv area, and once served time in a
U.S. Prison for his role in the murder of an alleged Israeli underworld figure
in Los Angeles.
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