I’ve been trying to avoid this subject for the simple reason that I don’t like to post bad news about Israel. There are more than enough outlets that are only too happy to bad-mouth Israel, whether truthfully or not, and I don’t like to add my voice to them. Sadly Petach Tikva’s woes are becoming the elephant in the room – hard to ignore.
Last night organized crime hit rather too close to home with a huge explosion occurring shortly after midnight. It brought back memories of the Second Intifada, and it was so loud I wasn’t sure if it was a bomb or perhaps a Grad missile from Gaza or the Palestinian territories. Here’s the Ynet report (in Hebrew only), and this is a free translation:
The bomb war in Petach Tikva continues: Around 12.30 last night a large explosion was heard from a car in Yosef Nakar Street which alarmed thousands of local residents in the Kfar Ganim neighbourhood.
According to Walla News the police reckon that
the car belongs to a person belonging to the Avi Ruchan crime organization and that the bomb was intended to kill him.
The police – and all of us local residents – also presume that this bombing is part of a larger campaign that stretches back several months, involving several bombs and a grenade attack. Here’s the sorry list:
Let’s start last June, when two men were gunned down in broad daylight in a residential neigbourhood in Petach Tikva:
Youngsters were playing in the yard of their kindergarten during recess on Thursday when shots rang out meters away, part of a brazen drive-by shooting in Petah Tikva that killed two men and left a third seriously wounded.
Staff rushed the children inside, and within minutes, police were on the scene, investigating yet another gangland hit in central Israel.
Officers confirmed that one of the dead men, Eli Orkabi, 35, from Petah Tikva, had been the subject of investigations in the past. The other man slain was Eran Fartush, 42; and the wounded man was his partner in a local contracting firm.
Orkabi was killed 13 years after he stabbed a man to death at the Hilton Promenade in Tel Aviv during an argument over a beach chair.
He signed a plea bargain in the killing of Alon Michaeli, and served three years in prison for manslaughter.
The third victim, in his 40s, was hospitalized at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in the city. No arrests had been made by press time.
The midday shooting took place on a quiet, leafy residential street, but the short stretch is book-ended by an elementary school and two kindergartens.
Sadly Eran Partush was an innocent bystander who lost his life to vicious criminals.
In fact the crime wave goes even further back, as the article continues:
Thursday’s attack was the latest in a series of shootings and bombings in Petah Tikva in the past six months. In April, a man was critically wounded when he was shot by a man on a motorcycle, and in February, a 26-year-old man was moderately wounded while sitting in his car. In December, a 44-year-old man known to police was killed by a bomb that was attached to his motorcycle.
Then last July two men were killed in a car explosion at Yarkonim Junction, just outside Petach Tikva.
These obviously didn’t make a dent in the criminals’ intentions as another two people were killed in another car bomb in central Petach Tikva in February:
The two men, both known to police, were driving in the car when it exploded on Hameginim St. in Petah Tikva around 4 a.m. Monday. Their names have still not been released for publication.
After the first explosion they managed to drive a couple dozen more meters before they came to a stop, police said, at which point the car burst into flames as secondary explosions rocked the neighborhood.
Police are working under the assumption that the explosion was not a targeted mob hit, but rather that the two men were transporting the bomb when it detonated prematurely – what’s known as a “work accident.”
Four people were arrested in connection to the blast and they will appear at the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday at noon.
I think it’s ironic that, as noted at the beginning of the above article, the men were screaming to Heaven for help:
Yafit and her teenage children could hear the screams from their sixth floor balcony in Petah Tikva Monday morning, as a man, caught in a car torn apart by an explosion, screamed for help as he burned alive on the street below.
“‘Shma Yisrael, Shma Yisrael,’ he kept screaming from inside the car,” Yifat said, adding that her family saw a second man, charred and burned “like charcoal,” pulled from the scene by paramedics.
If they were that God-fearing why were they trying to kill someone in the first place?
This is besides another attempted bombing in January that was prevented by residents’ awareness: a bomb in the entrance to a building on Yahalom St. (right opposite my in-laws!) was neutralized by police.
February continued to be a deadly month: The car of the deputy mayor of Petach Tikva was bombed right outside his house:
Petah Tikva deputy mayor Ariel Bosso’s car exploded overnight Thursday, causing damage to the vehicle.
No one was hurt in the blast.
Bosso’s car was parked on his street when it exploded.
Suspecting a deliberate attack, police were investigating the incident.
Just so you get an idea of the geography, Bosso’s house is about 50 meters from our shul. More importantly a friend of mine lives in that building too, with 4 small children. The police have now installed a security booth outside the building but that is rather locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.
A few days later a hand grenade was thrown at a money-lender’s shop in Petach Tikva’s shuk (market), injuring five:
A grenade exploded in a store in Petah Tikva’s open air market Tuesday morning, wounding five people.
One of the injured was listed in moderate condition and four others were lightly injured after the blast in the Tel Aviv suburb.
“The explosion was horrible,” a fishmonger at the market told Ynet. “Right away we thought it was an explosive device. They said someone threw a grenade; there are injured there and many police cars and ambulances. What is happening in Petah Tikva is Sodom and Gomorrah.”
The fishmonger was spot-on in his description of the criminal goings-on in my home-town. The police obviously know who is connected to which crime since they make announcements all the time.