'Alperon vendetta could rock cities'

Former senior police officer issues warning as bomb found near Central District Unit offices in Ramle.

Israeli cities could be rocked by car bombs and other explosions in fallout from the assassination of mob kingpin Ya'acov Alperon, a former senior police officer told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. Former Israel Police head of investigations, Cmdr. (ret.) Moshe Mizrahi, said he was deeply concerned over the prospect of innocent people being caught up in a wave of mob violence, as the Alperon family attempted to avenge Monday's car-bomb killing of its family head in Tel Aviv. Mizrahi said, however, that revenge attacks were not likely in the next two months or so, "despite this family's [the Alperons'] extreme hotheadedness. You can expect to see rival mob figures go underground and take extreme security precautions, because they know they're in danger." After a calming-down period, however, when police pressure waned, the violence could start, Mizrahi warned. "My big fear is that because this is a major blood feud, mobsters will not take civilians into consideration. They won't care about the consequences of what they do," he said. Mizrahi's warnings came as reports came in of a bomb uncovered near the offices of the Police Central District Unit in Ramle, which houses officers who play a pivotal role in the fight against organized crime. The bomb, discovered by a civilian security company, did not detonate. It was not immediately clear who planted it. The only way the police could have prevented Alperon's murder was to monitor his movements 24 hours a day, Mizrahi added, saying that law enforcement agencies did not have the personnel to do that. "Alperon has had a laser dot on his head for two years. He was a marked man. The police knew he was under threat, and there's no need for concrete intelligence to establish that," Mizrahi said. "The fact is that the assassins moved around Alperon - who was a central police target - freely. That means we weren't there in a sufficient way." Mizrahi added that "no great expertise" was needed to place the bomb that ended Alperon's life. "It's very simple to show a young man who just joined a crime organization how to stick the bomb with a magnet under the car. No major experience is needed. The assassins could have been young guys who would not be recognized even walking down the street," Mizrahi noted. A simple remote control device or a cellphone could have been used to detonate the explosives, he said. "Even an air conditioner remote control will work." Vowing a chilling vendetta from the gravesite of his slain father, one of Alperon's sons threatened to kill the person responsible. Thousands of mourners, including well-known underworld figures, paid their final respects Tuesday to Alperon, who was buried on Tuesday at the Ra'anana Cemetery. "We will never forgive. God will avenge his blood," one of Alperon's sons said. "We will find the man who did this. "I'll send this man to God. He won't have a grave, because I'll cut off his arms, his head, and his legs." One of his daughters, in her eulogy, said her father was always smiling, and that he came to all of his children's school events. "He was a warm and beloved father," she said. Amidar gang leader Roni Harari said Alperon was "a family man who had long ago left the crime world." Netanya-based mob boss Rico Shirazi said he had come to pay his last respects. Alperon's nephew said Tuesday morning that the slain mafia boss's murderer would be punished for his crime. "If he is not punished from above, he will be punished by other means," Ronen Salameh told Army Radio, adding that he wished the assassin the same fate as his uncle. "We'll find out who did it. It's only a matter of time," Salameh said. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday that law enforcement bodies needed to be shaken up in light of the rising violence caused by organized crime. "There is an inconsistency between the level of crime and the manner in which it is being handled," he said. Olmert added that he intended to meet with Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Israel Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen in the coming days to hear of their proposals to fight organized crime. Earlier Tuesday, the Tel Aviv District Court authorized the release of Alperon's son Dror from detention so he could attend the funeral, along with a second family member who is in prison. The court, however, denied Dror Alperon's request to sit shiva at home. Alperon's widow, Ahuva, pleaded that her son be allowed to remain with her longer. "I ask that my... boy... be allowed to come home. It's so difficult for us," she told Army Radio. Ahuva told the radio station she had been unaware of threats on her husband's life. "He was in court yesterday. What safer place is there?" she said. "I still haven't grasped what happened yesterday. I have seven orphans now." Police declined to confirm a report that the bomb was placed in Alperon's car while it was parked in a lot next to the courthouse. Agents from the Israel Police's FBI-style unit, Lahav 443, have launched a manhunt for Alperon's killer. "We're operating on the intelligence level and on the operational level to prevent any repercussions from this incident," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a telephone interview. "He was the top of the top in the criminal world and we're taking it very seriously." Jerusalem Post staff and Bloomberg contributed to this report.