The horrifying 2005 double murder in which Nadia Galibov and her three-and-a-half-year-old niece were gunned down was revealed Sunday to have been a case of mistaken identity. Underworld assassins mistook the family car owned by Galibov's brother, Ariel Kataib, which was returning from a family celebration, to be the vehicle of alleged crime boss Itzik Abergil.
According to Central District police, five suspects were arrested six weeks ago. The District Attorney's Office convinced one of the five to become a state's witness and agree to testify that the murder was an attempted hit against Abergil. Once the agreement was signed, police requested that the 15-month gag order on the case be lifted.
On May 31, 2005 the family was driving home after celebrating the joint bar and bat mitzva party of their children. The children's aunt was sitting next to them in the back seat of the car. As they stopped at a red light just outside Ma'asiyahu Prison, a car pulled up alongside and opened fire.
The celebrants' sister Leah and aunt were killed, and the other passengers in the car - the bar mitzva boy, the bat mitzva girl and their mother - sustained moderate to serious wounds.
From the outset, the authorities suspected that the shooting was a case of mistaken identity. Police immediately formed a special task force to head the investigation, led by Asst.-Cmdr. Yossi Boker of the Central District's Central Investigative Unit. Additionally, police requested and were granted a gag order which remained in place until this past Sunday.
Investigators responding to the scene of the shooting discovered a vehicle matching the description of the assailants' car abandoned several hundred meters away from the scene of the crime. Upon searching the car, police recovered automatic weapons used in the attack.
The intended target, Itzik Abergil, is a fixture in Israel's criminal underworld, and the leader of one of its most powerful crime families. According to police intelligence, Abergil was also attending an event not far from the Kataib family's short-lived celebration.
The Abergil family has had a long standing feud with rival crime heads, and Itzik's brother, Abie, was convicted of attempting to murder underworld rival Ze'ev Rosenstein in a failed hit. Ya'akov Abergil, the family patriarch, was assassinated in 2002, after which Itzik is believed to have assumed control of the family.