Israeli gangster: Mafia wars responsible for spate of assassinations
In the 2007 movie American Gangster, Frank Lucas laments the chaos sweeping the Manhattan underworld after the death of crime boss Bumpy Johnson. “It’s chaos. Every gorilla for himself,” he says.
In Israel, a comparable situation has prevailed following the assassination of one of the country’s top crime lords two years ago. The ensuing tit-for-tat killing spree is now threatening to cause havoc across the country, Ha’aretz reports.
On February 24, 1993, top mafia boss Yehezkel Aslan was gunned down on a popular street in Tel Aviv. Until the hit on Aslan, top crime lords were thought to be untouchable. Since the killing, Ha’aretz reports, chaos has reigned; and a coastal gang war has spilled over into the heart of the country.
According to the report in Ha’aretz, twenty years after the Aslan hit, killings are ordered by low-level crime figures on the spur of the moment. New gangs seem to sprout up daily and car bombings have been used to target rival thugs, threatening public safety. Many of Israel's crime families came from Russia around 1989, seeing the country as a good place to launder money.
Yitzhak Abergil, who controlled protection, extortion and gambling rackets in the coastal cities of Holon, Bat Yam and Rishon, created a “one-man bank” of loan sharking. Once every so often the body of a debtor would turn up. The network was a gold mine and at the role of the dice the house always won. But in May 2011 everything changed.
Abergil was extradited to the US and into the vacuum stepped the young leaderless “soldiers”. The struggle to inherit Abergil’s empire has split the three cities. Rival gangs led by Abergil’s deputies waged war on each other. Eventually one came out on top: Yossi Mosli. The Mosli Gang threatened the livelihood of the old order — those still loyal to Abergil. Then came the recent assassinations.
First old Abergil cohort turned Mosli ally Avi David was knocked off. In February 2012 Daniel Samara and Ohad Franco joined him. A car bomb that went off in Tel Aviv in January is being linked to the coastal crime wars.
Two of Abergil’s deputies who lost out to Mossi are due to be released from prison in the coming months following sympathetic plea bargain hearings. One of the men, Yaniv Ben-Shushan, told a policeman guarding him: “When I get out of here, you’re finished, you don’t understand, you’re going to end up under the ground. You don’t know who you’ve started up with.”
What do you think the authorities could do to stem the killings? Should the authorities be doing more? Let us know your thoughts.
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