A gang war in Israel intensified on Tuesday night when a car bomb killed a leading underworld figure.
Emergency services and the bomb squad rushed to the crime scene in the Mediterranean city of Ashkelon in the early hours of the morning after reports that a car was on fire following an explosion.
A key member of one of Israel’s top gangs was found dead at the scene, according to the Times of Israel.
Details of the ongoing police investigation, including the man’s name, cannot be released due to a gag order imposed by police.
The incident comes after a string of retaliatory attacks between rival crime syndicates in the Jewish state.
Last month, the son of an alleged mafia boss was killed in Tel Aviv. Shai Shirazi, 30, was shot dead on Moshe Sneh Street.
His father Aryeh “Rico” Shirazi, one of the best known figures from the Israeli underworld, is currently serving eight years in prison for money laundering, fraud, threats, and tax crimes.
Three men were arrested near Ashkelon in relation to the younger Shirazi’s shooting, two of them Tel Aviv residents, but further details of the investigation are, again, under gag orders.
In the aftermath of that murder, a police officer was reported to tell the news site Walla: “We’re expecting bloodshed – we will have to stretch our forces.” That prediction appears to have fulfilled on Tuesday.
The older Shirazi was imprisoned after featuring as a central person of interest in the so-called 512 case, a lengthy investigation into several aspects of Israel’s crime families.
Last year, he was indicted for the 2004 attempted murder of Asi Abutbul, an alleged rival boss, who is now also behind bars after being found guilty of money laundering and extortion.
The Israeli mafia allegedly consists of 16 crime families, largely drawn from Maghrebi Jewish families that have moved to Israel from North Africa, and also Palestinian families.
In the 1980s, Israeli crime syndicates were setup in the US and they have been heavily involved in drug trafficking into America, with branches in New York, Arizona and Los Angeles.