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Mob kingpin given 3 life sentences for murdering bystanders in failed hit

Judges also order Yitzhak Abergil to pay NIS 1.5 million in compensation to victims of ‘cruel’ 2003 bombing in Tel Aviv, which they say was ‘no different from a terror attack’

Yitzhak Abergil, convicted of murdering 3 bystanders during an attempted assassination of a rival, receives his sentence at the Tel Aviv District Court, June 28, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Yitzhak Abergil, convicted of murdering 3 bystanders during an attempted assassination of a rival, receives his sentence at the Tel Aviv District Court, June 28, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Tel Aviv District Court sentenced a notorious mobster to three life sentences and an additional 30 years in jail on Tuesday for the murder of three uninvolved bystanders during an attempted hit on a rival in 2003, due to his role as head of an organized crime group that carried out the bombing.

Yitzhak Abergil, 52, was also ordered to pay NIS 1.5 million ($439,000) in compensation for the victims of the blast. His accomplice Avi Rochen was sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to commit attempted murder.

“The prosecution framed me. Today it’s Abergil, tomorrow it’s someone else,” Abergil charged, maintaining his innocence.

The court convicted Abergil in November, holding him responsible for a bombing on Yehuda Halevi Street in Tel Aviv that killed Naftali Magad, Rahamim Tzruya and Moshe Mizrahi, and injured several others. The court also convicted Abergil of the attempted murder of underworld figure Zeev Rosenstein, who survived.

Mizrachi’s sister told the Ynet news site that she was satisfied with the sentence, and “that he will rot and die in prison.”

While Abergil was not accused of carrying out the attack himself, judges charged that he “initiated and planned the incident that would harm civilians,” and described the attack as “a cruel, uninhibited plan, no different from a terror attack.”

Yitzhak Abergil at the Tel Aviv District Court in Tel Aviv on February 5, 2017 (Flash90)

Judges accused Abergil of heading a “powerful criminal organization” and said it was “doubtful that one like it has been set up to this day.”

Regarding the crime organization he headed, which operated from at least 2002 to 2006, the judges said in November that its leaders had not shied away from violence, even obtaining an anti-tank missile intended for use against rivals and funding their activities by trading in drugs.

Abergil was indicted along with 17 others in July 2015. The multi-year investigation, dubbed Case 512 and described as one of the largest underworld busts in Israel’s history, encompassed some 40 individual investigations into crimes committed over more than a decade by some 50 suspects, police have said.

Last June, Abergil’s brother Meir was granted parole from prison after serving two and a half years of a five-year sentence. Meir Abergil was sentenced in 2018 by the Tel Aviv District Court as part of a plea bargain in which he admitted to being involved in the failed attempt to kill Rosenstein.

The Abergil brothers were considered heavyweights of Israel’s criminal underworld.

They were both previously arrested in August 2008 in Israel, following an American extradition request, after they were named in an indictment that charged them with using a San Fernando Valley gang to distribute a million MDMA pills and paying a gang member to kill a man for stealing a drug shipment.

A handcuffed Yitzhak Abergil is led off a plane from the US by police and prison service officials (Photo credit: Israel Prison Service)

They both spent time in US prison. Meir was released in a plea agreement and returned to Israel, but was then arrested again in Case 512. Yitzhak, who was given an 8.5-year sentence in 2012, was returned to Israel in 2014 to serve the remainder of his sentence in an Israeli prison.

A few days before Abergil was sentenced, a former senior member of his crime syndicate turned state witness was found dead in South America. The man had testified about a number of murders, according to the Maariv daily, and was living abroad as part of a witness protection program.

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