Israeli mobs: Holy Land or gangland?

Mizrahi: Trying to stop an all-out gang war in Tel Aviv

Holy Land or gangland?

At the funeral for assassinated Tel Aviv mob boss Yaakov Alperon last month, one of his sons vowed a special blood-soaked revenge for his father’s death. “We will find the man who did this,” promised Omer Alperon. “I’ll send this man to God. He won’t have a grave because I’ll cut off his arms, his head, and his legs.”

Days after the gruesome statement was made, the Israeli government ordered an immediate crackdown on organized crime to stop a quickly developing all-out gang war. In the face of mounting pressure, Israel’s police are struggling to overcome growing concerns they are impotent in the face of the growing violence.

Yaakov Alperon was slain on Nov. 17 when his car was bombed on a residential street. Following the killing, the former chief investigator for Israel’s national police, Moshe Mizrahi, wrote in the Jerusalem Post that he worried the assassination would spark a “major blood feud,” and civilians could get caught in the crossfire. Over the last three years, increasing violence between crime groups has claimed the lives of at least eight civilians and dozens of gangsters.

So far the police crackdown has produced the arrest of mob boss Amir Mulner, an explosives expert who was stabbed in the neck two years ago by Alperon’s son Dror at a mafia summit. Mulner is suspected of orchestrating Alperon’s assassination. He and nine others were charged last week with possession of a semi-automatic 7.65-mm Beretta pistol with a silencer, and conspiracy to commit a crime. Police also arrested Alperon’s older brother, Nissim, who was thought to be the most likely to instigate a revenge attack, along with 18 others during a raid on a café.

For now, Tel Aviv remains unusually quiet. But locals know the fight to uphold a crime family’s honour can only be won with more blood. Alperon’s sister Shoshana, for one, is calling for it to be spilled. “God willing, those who killed Yaakov will have the same thing done to his children,” she said following her brother’s assassination. “Kill, and be killed.”

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