(photo credit: INIMAGE)
Southern mob boss Shalom Domrani was released from prison on Sunday, leading to fears that the gang warfare that saw car bombs across the southern district in late 2013 and early 2014 will flare up again as Domrani returns to Ashkelon.
Domrani’s release came almost six months after he was convicted of tampering in the Netivot municipal elections in 2013.
One of the top targets of the Israel Police, Domrani was greeted by dozens of well-wishers outside Ramon Prison in southern Israel on Sunday.
During his absence, lieutenants from Domrani’s organization have battled to maintain control of his empire in southern Israel against lieutenants of his arch-rival, Benny Shlomo, who is serving a year-long term for extortion.
Shlomo used to be one of Domrani’s top men before breaking off with his own crew, eventually managing to bite off whole chunks of his former boss’s operations. Shlomo is also suspected of being behind the series of car bombs in Ashkelon in late 2013 that targeted associates of Domrani’s.
Shlomo is expected to be released from prison by the end of the month, leading to fears that the fighting between the two organizations will flare up again, as both men look to reassert control over the South.
Late last month, police arrested a major underworld bomb-maker on his way to sell a 2kg bomb to associates of the Lavi brothers crime family from Rehovot. The crime family is allied with Domrani and is seen as the long arm of his organization in central Israel. Police believe the bomb was meant to be used to target members of the “Georgian Gang” (“Hagruzinim”), a local Ashdod crew allied with Benny Shlomo.
Benny Shlomo made his name as a top associate of Domrani’s, before starting his own crew and launching a blood-feud with his former boss, which saw a series of car bombs in and around Ashkelon over the past couple of years.
Domrani was sentenced to 15 months in prison in June, for interfering in the municipal elections in Netivot in October 2013. He received credit for time served since his arrest in November of 2013.
He was convicted of threatening influential Netivot Rabbi Ya’acov Ifergan on election day on behalf of rival Rabbi Yoram Abergil. The two rabbis had supported competing mayoral candidates in the election, and Abergil’s people wanted Domrani to intimidate his rival.
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