police crowd 298.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
As part of ongoing efforts to tackle a recent flare-up of mob-related violence in Netanya and other locales, over 100 police officers staged a raid against the Hariri crime family in Umm el-Fahm on Wednesday morning.
The police searched three buildings owned by the infamous clan, known for their involvement in protection rackets and arms dealing, police said.
"This is directly linked to the upswing in criminal activity in Netanya, and we believe that some members of the Hariri crime family have been helping the Netanya mobsters in their ongoing feuds," Sharon District Police spokesman Yitzhak Shemer said. Shemer said he was not at liberty to discuss what was uncovered in the raid, but said it was successful.
Taking on the Hariri family in Umm el-Fahm, however, is no easy task.
The Israeli Arab clan, which police sources have described as a "strong, family-based organization," dominates the underworld in the country's north, and has been accused of gun running, drug dealing, extortion and racketeering, among other crimes.
The Hariri name has also been linked to a series of gangland assassinations in recent years, including the June 11 car-bombing death of Tel Aviv attorney Yoram Haham, who was involved in a case that ended with the conviction of several Hariri family members.
Umm el-Fahm is also regarded as somewhat hostile by security forces. Police raided an Islamic center in the city last month, shutting the center down for alleged ties to terrorist activity.
These are some of the reasons a large force was deployed in the area on Wednesday. Police said the sensitivity of the area, combined with the number of buildings that needed to be searched, resulted in the "overwhelming force" brought by various police units, including local police officers, special Yasam officers, and members of the National Investigations Unit.
Moshe Mizrahi, the former head of the police's Investigations Department, said that the Hariri family has long been a major player in the county's organized crime scene, and that pressuring them was the right thing to do.
"This is exactly what the police have to do," Mizrahi said. "They have to keep pressure on the large families all of the time and not let up.
"Just like the security forces work against terrorists around the clock, we have to do the same thing with organized crime."
Mizrahi also said police were likely looking for weapons in the Hariri-owned buildings on Wednesday, echoing assertions that the clan is known for their sales of arms to various crime syndicates across the country.
"They've also begun teaming up with other families," Mizrahi said. "There's been more and more cooperation between certain groups, and the map of those relationships is known to police."
Mizrahi said that one outcome of such cooperation is a greater ability to build alliances in mob feuds and engage in contract killings throughout the country.
"Let's say [a particular crime family] wants to take someone out in Jerusalem, well, they approach the right people who have a guy in Jerusalem, and they can get it done, even if they're up north, or somewhere else," he said.
Hariri family members have been assassination targets themselves. In 2004 the family's boss, Yihye Hariri, was gunned down outside an auto shop in Taibe, where the family was once based, relocating years ago to Umm el-Fahm and Jaljulia.
That hit, apparently part of a feud with the Israeli-Arab Abdel Khader syndicate, brought the two families dangerously close to the brink of an all-out war.
Mizrahi stressed that the only way to keep the families from battling in the streets of the country's cities is to constantly crack down on them.
"If we let up, then they'll only have time to get stronger," he said.
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