Police say major underworld car bombing stopped in Kiryat Gat

Deadly blood feud between two underground crime families spilling into the streets of southern Israel.

Crime scene [illustrative] (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Crime scene [illustrative]
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
A booby-trapped car packed with explosives, gas tanks and hundreds of pieces of shrapnel was seized in a Kiryat Gat neighborhood last month just before it could be used in a mob hit that would have endangered the lives of innocent bystanders, it was cleared for publication on Wednesday.
The seizure was reported ahead of the indictment of two suspects arrested on March 19 in connection to the planned hit. The men, Shay Ben-Amo, 35, and Eran Ziv, 40, are associates of Shalom Domrani’s southern crime family. Police believe they planned to use the car bomb to kill one of the Shlomo brothers, Benny and Shalom, or members of their rival organization.
According to the indictment, Ben-Amo and Ziv took a stolen Mazda 6, stashed it on Moshav Zohar, near Kiryat Gat, and started turning the car into a bomb. They packed the car with four propane tanks, a 10-kilo tank full of cooking gas, a large plastic container full of gasoline, and 11 socks filled with more than 500 screws, nuts and bolts, the indictment says.
On March 19, the two men drove to Kiryat Gat, with Ziv in the booby-trapped Mazda, proceeded by Ben-Amo in a Fiat, clearing his path. When they pulled over in a parking lot in Kiryat Gat, they were swarmed by investigators, who placed them under arrest and called in the bomb squad.
The Shlomo brothers and their gang are enemies of Domrani, and over the past couple of years they have waged a bloody war against the Ashkelon-based mobster that has seen no shortage of bombings in the South.
The seizure, police said, is the third time in the past several months that they have prevented an underworld bombing in the Southern District.
Around 4 a.m. on February 27, officers on a stakeout in Ashdod arrested Omer Ashkenazi they caught placing a bomb in a trash can at the entrance to the house of Yarin Michael, an underworld figure police were following at the time. Ashkenazi tried to flee and was shot by police.
The police said he was shot after, in his stolen car, he repeatedly rammed patrol cars that were blocking his getaway. He later died in the hospital.
On December 15, police stopped another bombing tied to the Domrani-Shlomo feud, when they arrested an underworld bomb maker they caught picking up a bomb he had stashed in an Ashkelon park.
The bomb maker, Adi Mahlouf, 38, was at the park with his wife and baby, and police said he used the family outing as cover to mask the retrieval of the bomb, which included a 12 volt battery hooked up to a kilo of explosives.
Mahlouf was arrested before he could climb back into his car with the bomb and his wife and child.
Mahlouf is not affiliated with either of the warring crime families, rather he is a freelance bomb maker well known in the underworld, and will work for the highest bidder.
Later that same day, police arrested two other suspects they caught trying to pick up the bomb in Ashkelon.
On Tuesday, a judge ordered all three men kept in custody until the end of their trial.
Domrani has long been one of the better known criminals in the country, and runs an Ashkelon- and Moshav Otzem- based crime family that has dominated the underworld in the South. In recent years, though, he has faced a brutal onslaught from Benny Shlomo, once one of his top lieutenants, and today along with his brother Shlomo and the rest of their gang, Domrani’s most bitter rivals.