Police have arrested 14 Israelis on suspicion of involvement
in a number of attempted underworld assassinations. In
addition, they detained four foreign nationals from Belarus,
"hired guns" who police believe were brought to Israel to
carry out at least one hit.
Details of the arrests were published Tuesday, at a press
conference convened by police after the Tel Aviv Magistrate's
Court lifted a gag order on the yearlong investigation, which
was spearheaded by Major General Yossi Sedbon.
The four foreign hit men were responsible for placing an
incendiary device at the end of January in the car park at
the Azrielli shopping and office complex in central Tel Aviv.
Police were shocked to discover that the device had fallen
from the car of Ezra "Shoni" Gavrieli, the businessman father
of Likud Knesset member Inbal Gavrieli.
Gavrieli denied that he was the target. He said that he is
not involved in underworld power struggles and that he has no
idea who would want to harm him, or why.
Police believe that the attempt to kill Gavrieli was part of
an underworld power struggle. Police found video evidence
that shows the device falling off Shoni Gavrieli's car, and
called him to the central investigations division for
questioning. Gavrieli told officers that he was shocked to
hear that he had been the intended target of the device.
Police also displayed a large cache of arms which belonged to
the alleged hit cell. According to one of the officers
involved in the case, "we haven't come across such a large
cache of weapons and ammunition in a very long time." Among
the items seized from an apartment in the Sharon region were
two LAU missiles, dozens of hand grenades telescopes and
firearms. Police believe that the suspects intended to use a
missile in the very near future.
According to police, the four foreigners entered Israel via
the Egyptian border in November 2003. They were arrested on
February 14, leading police to an apartment in Kfar Sava.
An bloody underworld battle has been raging for the past two
years, over control of illegal gambling in Israel and abroad.
Police intelligence officers have identified six main crime
families involved in the conflict, and know that they are
divided broadly into two main camps: the Abergil family and
the allied Alperon family on the one side, and Zeev
Rosenstein crime family backed by the Aboutbul family, on the
Several weeks ago, Internal Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi
and Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Shlomo Aharonishky presented a
NIS 1.3 billion plan to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon which
they said would rid Israel of organized crime by 2007. In the
last year-and-a-half, nine bystanders have been killed in