Underworld kingpins behind bars are outraged by the alleged acts of Dimitry Kirilik, accused by police of murdering a family of six in Rishon Lezion last month - including a three-year-old girl and a baby - and are planning to make Kirilik's life "difficult" in jail, Israel Radio reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, Kirilik's alleged murder of a young child and infant are viewed by prisoners as a gross violation of their own codes of conduct, and he will face systematic harassment - or worse - from fellow inmates if he is convicted and sentenced.
Kirilik, who is currently being held in the maximum-security Hadarim Prison, allegedly described himself as a "bad motherf*****" during questioning sessions with police, further infuriating convicted felons determined to punish him.
But a leading crime expert has cast doubt on the report, noting that many inmates serving time had themselves caused injury or death to children and teenagers.
"In the US, there was once a prisoner culture that considered those who harmed children [to be like] lepers," Prof. Menahem Amir of the Hebrew University's Criminology Institute told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
"But I think that has changed, both there and here," he added.
Several years ago, Amir's groundbreaking research into the inner workings of organized crime in Israel resulted in death threats, and he was forced to leave the country for a year.
"Today, prisoners serving time in Israel have used firearms recklessly in public places, harming civilians. Did they not shoot dead a teenager in Ramle during a drive-by? Did they not kill an innocent woman in Bat Yam during a botched assassination attempt? Today, the criminals let the bullets fly in all directions with no regard for the public," Amir said, referring to two recent incidents in which bystanders lost their lives during underworld assassination attempts.
"Today, everything has changed. There is no mercy for young people anymore. Prisoners instill terror in communities so they can act without being disturbed," the criminologist continued. "The rules have changed, partly because of the drug trade."
He added, "Have rapists serving time not assaulted children?"
Amir added that if Kirilik were sentenced to life terms behind bars, he could draw the most wrath from prisoners who had immigrated to Israel from Russia, "because of the damage he has caused the Russian community."
"Russian prisoners could be very angry with him," Amir said, adding that "Kirilik would have to be isolated from the rest of the general prison population."
A Prisons Service source told the Post that the issue of Kirilik's safety was "irrelevant for the time being."
"He will be under arrest for several days, and then kept in custody after he is indicted. There are no plans to merge him with the general population at this stage," the source said.
"It is, however, true that someone who murdered six members of a single family, including the family's third generation - a child and an infant - is not liked by anyone, neither prisoners nor civilians on the outside," the source continued. "But to say that we are concerned is false - there is no concern."