Rehovot police: We’ll have ‘zero tolerance’ for gang war currently roiling city’s streets

By end of court hearing, it appeared unlikely the cops had their men in Monday’s car bombing.

Car bomb in Rehovot, Dec 2013 (photo credit: flash 90)
Car bomb in Rehovot, Dec 2013
(photo credit: flash 90)
Monday’s car bomb in Rehovot that left a father and son badly wounded is the latest act in an ongoing gang war in the region between rival gangs and their allies in Southern Israel, police said in court in Ramle on Tuesday.
Police cast a wide net on Monday, arresting underworld figures on both sides of a gang war that has been a top priority of Central District Investigators and has left three people dead.
The victims include Yisrael Amar, shot dead in broad daylight on Rehovot’s main street in April. In court on Tuesday sat not only seven members of the Lavai family, which is believed to be behind Amar’s killing, but also a close relative of Amar and an Abergil family member, both from the opposite side of the gang war.
Addressing the judge on Tuesday, a Central District Detective said “since 2009 this conflict has left three people dead and it stopped being personal a long time ago. We believe that there are people being targeted now who aren’t directly involved in the conflict with either side, rather they happen to be affiliates with one side or another.”
He added “police have decided to have zero tolerance towards this conflict” A quiet city in central Israel, Rehovot has been a rather unlikely setting of a bloody gang war that pits the Lavai family against its rivals, who are affiliated with the Shlomo brothers from Moshav Heletz.
The Lavai family are closely- tied to Shalom Domrani’s Ashkelon-based organization, the former home of the Shlomo brothers, who broke off and started their own rival gang a couple years ago. In the time since, the rivalry between the Shlomo brothers and Domrani has played out in car bombs in central Ashkelon but also in the proxy war that has taken place in Rehovot and elsewhere in central Israel.
By the end of the first hearing, the police request for a 13 day remand extension had fallen through, and police ordered four suspects kept in custody for 24 hours only. Three other suspects, from Netivot and Ashkelon, were released outright.
Also on Tuesday, an additional police organized crime case appears in danger of falling through, when a Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court judge ordered the release of Ben Cohen a top associate of mobster Amir Mulner, who was arrested last week as part of a highly-publicized money laundering and extortion case.
Judge Menahem Mizrahi ruled that the police case did not contain enough evidence to keep Cohen in custody, and ordered him released on bond.
Cohen is one of the more prominent underworld figures in the Tel Aviv area, and once served time in a U.S. Prison for his role in the murder of an alleged Israeli underworld figure in Los Angeles.