Hagai Felician 370.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Though they say it typically doesn’t happen twice in the same place, in 2013
lightning struck one small corner of Bnei Brak’s Pardes Katz neighborhood over
and over, continually bringing sorrow to a single family.
Few had a worse
year than the Felician family.
In June, police announced the arrest of
three suspects in the August 2009 Bar Noar LGBT center shooting, which for four
years had been the flagship case for Tel Aviv police and had reportedly cost
millions of shekels to investigate.
The three suspects included brothers
Haggai and Benny Felician, the former the chief suspect and only person who
would end up indicted in the case. According to police, the murder was motivated
by the alleged sexual assault of the teenage Benny by the then-manager of Bar
Noar. Hagai, looking to avenge the assault of his brother, went to Bar Noar with
a pistol and began firing in all directions, leaving 26-year-old Nir Katz of
Givatayim and 17-year-old Liz Troubishi from Holon dead and injuring 11 others,
according to police.
After the arrests in June, things only got worse for
Benny would end up beating the Bar Noar indictment, but
would face a charge of trying to buy an illegal firearm, a case built with a
conversation picked up on a wiretap on the state witness in the Bar Noar case.
Older brother Yaakov Felician, a one-time top associate of the Avi Ruhan crime
family, was arrested later that month for the rape of a female attorney, though
he was subsequently released. Things hit rock bottom in July, when 15-year-old
Orr Felician, the youngest brother, fell to his death from a construction site
where he was helping his father during the summer vacation.
Just when you
thought things couldn’t get worse for the family, earlier this month Channel 2’s
Uvda program aired an investigative report into the 2006 murder of Avi Ruhan
(also from Pardes Katz) associate Ayal Salhov, who at the time was a police
informant. The report implicated Yaakov Felician, then Salhov’s closest and
oldest friend, as the trigger man in the killing.
Over just a few months
in 2013, the Felician family was repeatedly touched by fire, becoming, as some
joked, the Pardes Katz version of the Kennedys. The Felician curse and the Bar
Noar arrests brought renewed attention to Pardes Katz, long a poor, crime-ridden
and forgotten corner of the central region.
At around the same time that
the Bar Noar arrests were made, police arrested Yitzhak “Hishi” Hadif of Pardes
Katz for the repeated bombing of a Tel Aviv Tiv Ta’am supermarket
In the ’80s and ’90s, Hashi was the leader of the Pardes Katz
Gang, which fought a bloody war with the Ramat Amidar Gang led by the Harari
brothers that left more than a dozen people dead. Hadif was later arrested and
released in 2011 for allegedly being involved in the shooting of two Pardes Katz
men – Ya’acov and Hagai Felician.
At one point in late 2013, a few crime
reporters joked, it seemed that every major criminal case in central Israel was
somehow related to the Felicians or Pardes Katz. Though it had largely changed
its “crime neighborhood” image since the ’90s, Pardes Katz again found itself a
byword for crime and despair.
The Felician family, on the other hand, was
unknown to most Israelis until 2013, the year in which the cruel hand of fate
repeatedly found its way to their doorstep in a little forgotten corner of
Israel, somewhere between Ramat Gan and Petah Tikva.Read more person of the year articles: