Expert: Bat Yam hitmen now targets of boss

Organized crime expert tells 'Post' Abergil likely fears gunmen will incriminate him to reduce jail terms.

Abergil88 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
The gunmen who botched a mob hit in Bat Yam on Monday, killing innocent bystander Marguerita Lautinare, have themselves become targets of the crime boss who dispatched them, a leading organized crime expert told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. Ronen Ben-Adi, 39, and Shimon Sabah, 41, arrived on motorcycles at the beach and opened fire with submachine guns on Moti Hasin and Rami Amira, both said to be Abergil crime family associates, according to Prof. Menahem Amir of the Institute of Criminology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The hit was likely an inside job ordered "by members of the crime family because of acts of treachery," meaning that Itzik Abergil, the reputed head of the family, had to have ordered the shooting, Amir said. Most gangland shootings are the results of internal feuds, Amir said, rather than wars between families, although the Abergils are known to be in a feud with the Alperon family. Amir is all too familiar with the Israeli organized crime world - he has twice had his life threatened by mobsters after publishing information on crime families. He was forced to leave the country for a year. "The gunmen weren't professionals. They used Uzis, which spray rounds in every direction. These gunmen were stupid. When they didn't succeed at first, they continued the attack because they didn't want to go home without getting the job done," Amir said. Ben-Adi and Sabah were arrested by National Fraud Unit officers who were keeping Hasin and Amira under surveillance at the time of the shooting, and their arrest will now inevitably lead Abergil to suspect that they will cooperate with police and incriminate him in order to reduce their own prison sentences, Amir said. "These gunmen made a mistake which can put Abergil in prison. Such a mistake was once made by an American Sicilian gunman, and he died for it," he said. Abergil might try to convince his gunmen to commit suicide, Amir said. "He [Abergil] is smart. He will have them isolated, and tell them, look, everyone knows you talked. There is a precedent for this in Israeli crime history, when a hitman who messed up a job was given a gun to commit suicide with. When he failed to take himself out, he was gunned down," he said. "Should the gunmen cooperate with police? I think they should. No one will trust them that didn't talk, so they might as well talk. If Abergil is incriminated, he could go to jail for 15 years for ordering a hit," Amir said. Usually, bosses "are disconnected from the soldiers to avoid being incriminated," he said. On Tuesday, MK Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Israeli Beiteinu), a former deputy inspector general of the Israel Police, told The Jerusalem Post that a "180-degree turn" was needed from authorities if organized crime was to be tackled. "We don't need statements saying this was an act of 'criminal terrorism' and the need to change [tactics] in dealing with this," he said. "We need to start with the government, which must give the police more tools and technologies to tackle organized crime. New York should be taken as an example." "The police are unevenly matched against organized criminals, who spare no penny on security, cars and corrupting lawyers. The State Prosecution is weak, we need more skilled and more appropriate lawyers. Also, the courts do not hand down maximum sentences to crime bosses. They allow plea bargains to be struck to save the courts time. This is not how you build deterrence. And when you don't have deterrence, you wake up to scenes like in Bat Yam," Aharonovitch said. He added that the Abergil family was "a very difficult family," putting them in the "top five" list of the most powerful Israeli crime families. "They have no fear, and no regard for human lives. Itzik Abergil gives his soldiers targets, and the weapons and money for the hit," he said.