Assassinated mob boss was ‘king of protection racket’

Fears abound in Jaffa that murder of powerful underworld criminal Izat Hamad could set off a wave of violence in the city

Izat Hamad (Youtube / Channel 10 screenshot)
Izat Hamad (Youtube / Channel 10 screenshot)

Izat Hamad, the man shot dead in a targeted underworld killing in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, was “a prominent extortionist” in the center of the country, Channel 13 news has reported.

Hamad, 55, was riding a motorcycle when he was killed by another motorcyclist, in a suspected mob hit on the streets of south Tel Aviv. Magen David Adom medics said they found him lying in the road with multiple gunshot wounds. Attempts to resuscitate him failed, and they were forced to pronounce him dead.

According to Channel 13, Hamad spent 12 years in prison for attempted murder and was released in 2004. He was in and out of prison multiple times over the next 15 years. Four of Hamad’s brothers have reportedly also been killed, due to their involvement in mob activities centered in Jaffa.

Walla News called Hamad the “king of the protection racket,” and a police official told the news site that he was “the head of a criminal organization that was in conflict with quite a few other criminals. He had a lot of enemies and it is not clear at this stage who sent the assassins.”

Channel 12 reported that residents of Jaffa were fearful of repercussions following the murder of such a powerful figure.

“We’re deeply worried, when someone that big is killed — there’s no way it can just pass by smoothly,” said one resident. “It’s only a matter of time until there’s revenge. The biggest concern is that this will take Jaffa back to the days of the assassinations of the ’90s.”

Police at the scene of a suspected mob killing in Tel Aviv on July 17, 2021. (Israel Police)

The resident added: “Everyone in Jaffa knew Izat Hamad — from young to old. He was a national-level criminal. He was living on borrowed time for many years.”

Arab cities and towns have experienced a surge in violence in recent years, with organized crime seen as the main driver. Arab Israelis blame police, who they say have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and largely ignore the violence, which includes family feuds, mafia turf wars and violence against women.

The Abraham Initiative, a group that campaigns against violence in Arab society, said Saturday before the Jaffa killing that 48 Arab citizens had been killed in the country due to violent crime since the start of the year. It noted that 28 of those in this year’s death tally were under the age of 30.

In 2020, 96 Arab Israelis were killed, by far the highest annual toll in recent memory.

More than 90 percent of shootings in Israel last year took place in Arab communities, according to police, though Arab Israelis account for around one-fifth of the country’s population.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed