Police arrest mobster; hid weapons in school

Police say Lior Amsalem stashed guns in Bat Yam kindergarten in ongoing power struggle in Israeli organized crime.

Police walk near Jerusalem's Damascus Gate 390 (R) (photo credit: Ammar Awad / Reuters)
Police walk near Jerusalem's Damascus Gate 390 (R)
(photo credit: Ammar Awad / Reuters)
Police on Sunday arrested a man they believe stashed guns in a Bat Yam kindergarten, which they suspect were to be used as part of an ongoing power struggle in Israeli organized crime.
The police say Lior Amsalem, a 38-year-old Bat Yam resident, stored drugs and an arsenal of firearms on the roof of a kindergarten in the city. On Monday the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court extended his remand by seven days.
Police found the weapons during a drug raid in mid-February. The firearms included an M16, pistols, explosives, and hand grenades.
A spokesman for the Tel Aviv police said that Amsalem is suspected to be a member of the crime family run by Moti Hassin, and that the guns were likely intended for use in an ongoing power struggle in Israeli organized crime.
The spokesman said that Amsalem lived next door to the kindergarten and is suspected of stashing the guns on the roof of the building at nighttime, long after closing hours. He added that no one at the kindergarten is linked to the criminal act, and that while the guns were well-hidden there was a possibility that children could have been hurt if they had discovered the weapons.
According to the spokesman, the raid was part of an ongoing investigation into the Hassin family being carried out by the special YAMAR investigative unit.
In late March the Tel Aviv District Attorney filed an indictment in the Tel Aviv District Court charging four members of the Hassin organization, including Hassin himself, in connection with the 2011 gangland murder of Avi David. David, a known criminal underworld figure, was shot dead at close range last October outside a restaurant in Bat Yam.
Indicted alongside Hassin were three Bat Yam residents: 29-year-old Zalman Shlomo Niamchik, 28- year-old Ofir Niamchik and Yitzhak Zarabi, 29.
Niamchik also stands accused in the murder of Itzik Geffen, who was killed in a second gangland shooting at a gas station near Holon’s Wolfson Hospital, two months after David’s murder.
Police believe Hassin took charge of the Abergil family after Itzik Abergil and his brother Meir were extradited to the US in early 2011 on a litany of drug and violent crime charges. Though Itzik remains incarcerated in the US awaiting trial, Meir was freed and returned to Israel in August 2011.
In March, police said they believe Hassin carried out the two murders partly as a show of force to establish his position as the new leader of the crime family.