As police on Sunday investigate whether a business dispute led to the brutal slaying of three generations of the Oshrenko family in Rishon Lezion, some crime experts have raised the possibility that a Russian or Caucasus-affiliated mafia outfit was behind the single worst act of multiple homicide in Israeli crime history.
"Yes, Georgian and Russian mobsters do these things, as do Columbian and Thai mafia organizations," said Prof. Menachem Amir, of the Hebrew University's Criminology Institute.
"This happened in Tel Aviv in 1995, when a Georgian hit man shot dead a man who was in debt to a mafia baron, and shot dead his grandmother too, before beheading them both and wrapping their heads in a carpet," Amir said.
"The hit man, who was sentenced to two life sentences in prison, has to this day refused to disclose the location of the missing heads of his victims, or the name of the man who sent him.
"Entire families are erased in Russian mafia hits," Amir said. "It could be related to honor, or to business."
Amir noted that the Israel Police's Serious and International Crimes Unit (SICU) was established after the 1995 murders in order to track mob organizations in Israel that hailed from the countries of the former Soviet Union.
But the Russian mafia division of the SICU has been drastically downsized in recent years, as police have focused on smashing home-grown organized crime.
"We are not immune to this type of criminal activity. It grows wherever it appears," Amir warned.
Dep-Cmdr. (ret.) Dr. Danny Gimshi, head of the Community Safety Research Institute at Rishon Lezion's College of Management, concurred, saying that the Oshrenko homicides resembled a Russian mob hit job.
"This is linked to the fact that in our country, law enforcement is not efficient. We have an ex-prime minister and ex-president facing criminal proceedings. The law is seen as a suggestion," he said.
Gimshi added that growing lawlessness, as indicated by increasing teenage abuse of alcohol and other signs of criminality, were encouraging murderous crimes.
"This is a natural outcome of all these factors, and therefore I am not surprised it happened," Gimshi said.
"Crime organizations in the world, including Russian, Chinese and Columbian, horrify communities. This is a strategy to take control of people and places, and shut down resistance," he added.
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