Police struggle to handle uptick in mafia bomb hits

Police struggle to handle uptick in mafia bomb hits

Superintendent establishes new unit in ‘Israeli FBI’ to combat criminal bombings

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

The charred husk of a car that was targeted by a bomb in Tel Aviv  (illustrative photo credit: Channel 2 screenshot)
The charred husk of a car that was targeted by a bomb in Tel Aviv (illustrative photo credit: Channel 2 screenshot)

Two people were killed Thursday evening after their car exploded when they were driving on Highway 5 near Petah Tikva in a suspected hit connected with the criminal underworld. The blast was the latest in a series of organized crime assassinations using explosives, many of which detonated in crowded public areas.

Police are still at a loss on how to deal with the phenomenon, the Maariv daily reported Sunday.

“Today, every criminal organization, even the smallest ones, have bomb makers and an explosives warehouse,” explained a senior police source.

Another officer added that “assassinations with explosives have replaced the classic drive-by hit from the back of a motorcycle.”

In February, there was a surge in attempted murders of leading figures in Israel’s organized crime scene, especially in Rishon Lezion. Two people were killed when a car exploded in Rishon Lezion in late February.

Two weeks earlier, a car exploded in southern Tel Aviv, injuring two people, in what police suspect was a criminal underworld attack. Two brothers were wounded, both of whom had criminal records.

In January, a car exploded next to a bus in central Tel Aviv in what was reported as an attempted mob hit. At least seven people were lightly injured in that blast. Reports indicated that the explosion was an assassination attempt on Nissim Alperon. Alperon, a member of a prominent crime family, escaped with only scratches.

In response to the growing trend, Police Superintendent Yohanan Danino established a unit in Lahav 433 — the organized crime-fighting body also known as the Israeli FBI — to deal with these bomb attacks. Maariv reported that since the unit was established, five people have been killed in such attacks.

“Israel Police treats these incidents with utmost gravity and invests great effort and resources in investigating them,” a police spokesperson told Maariv. “In addition, law enforcement units are operating to prevent them, and more than a few such attacks have been foiled.”

“It should be noted that serious crimes of this type demand deep and complex investigations, patience, and long-term investment. In Lahav 433, a unit has been established recently whose purpose is to deal with the use of explosives, with an emphasis on prevention,” said the source.

The Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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