Crime war feared after Alperon hit
Family asks that Dror Alperon be released from detention for father's tightly-secured funeral.
Police fear a full-scale war between the country's various organized crime families will erupt after Mafia kingpin Ya'acov Alperon was killed when a car bomb exploded in his vehicle on a busy Tel Aviv thoroughfare Monday afternoon.
Three bystanders, including a 13-year-old boy, were wounded in the blast, which left Alperon's car ablaze as it sat on the corner of Rehov Yehuda Hamaccabi and Derech Namir.
The lifeless body of the mob boss, known on the street as "Don Alperon," dangled from an open door.
"We received a report of an explosion in a car," paramedic Lior Elharar told Army Radio. "We arrived within several minutes and found three casualties, one of whom was dead."
"I heard a huge blast and I approached the junction," Idit, an eyewitness, said. "Two women were lying on the crosswalk and there was an exploded car. I thought it was a terrorist attack."
Police had initially identified Alperon's body by the polo shirt he had been seen wearing earlier in the day at a Tel Aviv courthouse, where his son Dror was indicted on an unrelated charge.
Video taken by news crews of Alperon at the courthouse flashed across the evening news, with Alperon, in sunglasses and a black fedora, sauntering into the courtroom.
After the blast, large numbers of police, firefighters and medics arrived on the scene, including Insp.-Gen. David Cohen and Cmdr. Ilan Franco, the Tel Aviv police commander. Police said they were searching for a second vehicle that sped away from the scene of the blast, but a gag order was later placed on the details of the investigation.
Security will be tight for Alperon's funeral, scheduled for 12:30 Tuesday in the Ra'anana Cemetery. The family has asked that Dror Alperon be released from detention for the funeral.
"An extremely serious event took place today, and its consequences are completely clear to us," Franco said. "It likely happened because of an internal conflict within the Tel Aviv crime world ... If there are consequences to this attack, we will have to deal with them."
After Netanya crime boss Charlie Abutbul was wounded in an assassination attempt at a local cafÃ© in September, an additional 200 auxiliary police officers were sent to Netanya to crack down on area crime syndicates and quell the possibility of a mob war erupting.
But while that situation eventually calmed down, hopes for the quiet to continue dimmed Monday, as fears of retaliation immediately followed the news of Alperon's death.
Alperon had many enemies, including convicted drug lord Ze'ev Rosenstein - who himself has survived at least seven assassination attempts - and the rival Abutbul and Abergil families, with whom the Alperons battled over a lucrative bottle recycling racket.
Alperon has also had a standing feud with another gangster, Amir Mulner, dating to a January 2006 arbitration summit that went wrong. Knives and guns were drawn there, and Mulner emerged with a stab wound to the neck that was widely attributed to Alperon.
Alperon went undercover afterwards, along with his son, and police searched the country in vain for two months before both men struck a deal to turn themselves in. They were never charged.
A number of attempts have been made on Alperon's life previously, including an attack in 2001, in which the assailants threw a grenade at his home.
Alperon also survived a previous car bomb attack in 2003. In 2004, an indictment was filed against four Belarusian citizens for trying to murder Alperon and his associates, and last year, police defused an explosive device found in his son Elad's car.
Last May, Yaakov Alperon's older brother, Nissim, survived the ninth assassination attempt against him. Police intercepted a three-man hit team dispatched to get him, and in the ensuing gunbattle a policeman was seriously wounded and one of the gunmen was killed.
Alperon had served multiple prison terms and was arrested several times for stabbings, assault, blackmail and intimidation. He recently served a 10-month prison sentence as part of a plea agreement.
Jerusalem Post staff and AP contributed to this report.