Deadly gang war averted in South

Mobsters sought to use a missile to take out underworld lord Shalom Domrani.

Shimon Portal 370 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Shimon Portal 370
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Feuding rival gangsters in Israel’s South plotted to fire a missile at the house of Ashkelon mob kingpin Shalom Domrani, the YAMAR investigative unit reported on Tuesday.
Had the missile been fired, the situation between the gangs could have spiraled into an all-out gang war.
The would-be assassins cased out spots in and around Domrani’s house from where they could take him out from a distance, investigators said. They even planned to drive a tractor to the cemetery at Moshav Otzem, close to Domrani’s house, and use the vehicle to reach a height from which they could shoot a missile at the building. The hit team also attempted to acquire an M- 14 sniper rifle with telescopic sight to use in the hit.
Police have arrested four suspects in total, including Dudu and Meir Megidish from the Megidish crime family, as well as Gabi Etedgi and Pini Mizrachi.
Police said an indictment is expected to be presented against them next week in the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court. The suspects face charges of attempted murder, possession of weapons and ammunition and conspiracy to commit a crime.
At a press conference at the Ashkelon Police headquarters on Tuesday, Ch.- Supt. Shimon Portal, head of the Lachish Branch of YAMAR, said police informed Domrani of the threat on his life last month.
Domrani had just returned from Morocco, where he had relocated in order to escape the heat from police investigators.
Portal would not answer whether or not he believes police saved the life of Domrani, considered one of Israel’s top underworld figures and a longtime target of police investigators.
During the press conference, Portal revealed the existence of the four-month undercover investigation, which had been under a gag order due to the sensitivity of the case and the fact that police had an informant operating within Domrani’s organization.
Though the case eventually involved ongoing attempts by rival mobsters to leave a trail of blood throughout the South, the entire investigation began after a single act of wanton violence by an ex-con holding a serious grudge.
According to Portal, in August of this year, Mizrachi, who had recently finished serving 10 years for manslaughter, threw a fragmentation grenade into the home of Raziel Revach, a member of Domrani’s organization – who he bore an “obsessive” grudge against.
A young child and an elderly woman were both in the house at the time of the attack, but miraculously, the grenade failed to explode, Portal said.
Since Revach was well known to police, YAMAR investigators took over the case, and soon an ever more complicated and severe case came to light.
After Mizrachi failed in his attempt to kill Revach, police said he contacted the Ashdod-based Megidish crime family, close associates of the Abergil crime family and blood rivals of Domrani for control of the South.
“Megidish saw in Mizrachi someone who could do their dirty work for them,” Portal said. He added that the Megidish brothers gave Mizrachi a 9mm. pistol to kill Revach and top Domrani associate Momi Mosentini, and also began to work on getting a sniper rifle and a missile to use in a hit on Domrani and other members of his organization.
Portal would not say what type of missile they planned to use in the hit.
Shoulder-fired missiles have been used by Israeli mobsters in the past, including in 2006, when hit men fired a LAW missile at the car of Assi Abutbul in a failed attempt to kill the Netanya gangster.
Lachish District Commander Supt. Yoram Sofer said “this case involves a criminal organization that will stop at no means to reach its goals, including risking the lives of innocent civilians.”
“We had two difficulties; trying to get as much evidence as we can against this gang and also avoid any harm to the lives of innocent civilians. In the end, when we figured out that we couldn’t wait any longer and we had enough evidence, we moved in and made the arrests,” said Portal.
He would not confirm whether or not the conspiracy was being orchestrated behind the scenes by the Abergil organization, in order to have Mizrachi kill Domrani.
Mizrachi’s attorney, Sheila Dorfman, said that her client has denied all of the allegations against him, and has kept his right to remain silent throughout the investigation.
Dorfman also referred to the allegations as “nothing more than police gossip,” and said that the defense will focus on questioning the reliability of the police informant’s testimony against her client.
“The man in question is a known criminal, and who knows what the police promised him so that he would testify?”
Revach, who jump-started the entire case, is the brother of Yaniv Revach, an associate of Domrani who was driving the mobster’s car in July 2003 when hitmen opened fire on the car attempting to kill the mob boss. Domrani was not in the car, but the hail of gunfire took the life of Revach’s girlfriend, 16-year-old Shaked Shalhov, in a case that shocked the Israeli public.