Images that surfaced this week showed Justice Minister Yariv Levin and several other senior Likud members attending a recent Purim gathering hosted by an organized crime figure who is an activist in the ruling party.
In a short clip from the event, Levin can be seen embracing Rafi Chaim-Kedoshim at the latter’s home in Herzliya, after greeting several other people. Energy Minister Israel Katz of Likud was seated nearby at a table in the foreground of the video.
Transportation Minister Miri Regev and Likud MK David Amsalem were also in attendance, and were pictured posing with Chaim-Kedoshim and in other footage from the event, including a video of Amsalem singing.
Chaim-Kedoshim, a member of the Kedoshim crime family, has previously served four prison sentences over convictions for acts of violence, kidnapping and extortion. He was also involved in cashing checks in the gray market.
According to Hebrew media reports, he has become a prominent figure in Likud’s Herzliya branch after signing up hundreds of new members to the party.
“He wants to take over the municipality, run an [electoral] slate, receive two seats [on the city council] and be deputy mayor. He’ll deal with real estate and business licensing. A crime family will be penetrating into local and central government. Everyone here is afraid of him,” an activist in the Likud branch told the Haaretz daily.
פרסום: באמצע חג הפורים הגיע שר המשפטים יריב לוין למסיבה של רפי חיים (קדושים) ממשפחת הפשע קדושים ההרצליינית, עבריין שישב 4 תקופות בכלא. במסיבה נכח גם בנו, ישראל, שהורשע בירי באלי טביב וישב שנתיים בכלא.
— Chaim Levinson (@chaimlevinson) March 20, 2023
The newspaper also reported that Chaim-Kedoshim has attended at least one Likud event where the party’s chairman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was present.
There was no comment from Levin or the other Likud lawmakers on their attendance at the Purim party.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid slammed Levin, suggesting a US attorney general who did something similar would not remain in office for another “five minutes.”
“That’s the method in Likud: Suck up to the central [committee] members,” Lapid told Army Radio, referring to a powerful panel in the ruling party.
The images were published as Levin, the No. 2 in Likud and top political ally of Netanyahu, has been a key architect of the government’s far-reaching efforts to overhaul the judicial system, which have sparked mass protests and major political rifts in the country.
Chaim-Kedoshim was recently filmed cursing at anti-government protesters in Herzliya while riding a motorcycle, before speeding off.