Petach Tikva – the organized crime capital of Israel?

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.

נזקי הפיצוץ הלילה בפתח תקווה ()

Bombed car in Petach Tikva 27th March 2014

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.

Following that bombing and the double shooting the police made a wave of arrests.

Car bomb “work accident” in 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.

Grenade thrown in Petach Tikva market

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.

Which then raises the question – what on earth are they waiting for? Why are these criminals not behind bars? When will Petach Tikva residents be able to feel safe again?

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12 Responses to Petach Tikva – the organized crime capital of Israel?

  1. DavidinPT says:

    That explosion sounded identical in volume to a scud falling in Ramat Gan. Given that I live about 1km from last night’s bomb and Ramat Gan is about 5km distant, it follows that the size of the bomb would have been about 20% of a scud. If the police are unable or unwilling to bring charges, it’s high time all the local mobsters are rounded up into administrative detention. The cops know who they are. KEEP OUR STREETS SAFE!

  2. Reality says:

    Boy was i scared last night! What is wrong with the police ? Arrest all known mobsters,throw them into jail & throw away the key.Funnily(or not) my friend who lives in the street slept through it all including her family! I tried contacting her to ask if they were ok & this morning she told me she had no idea of what happened! How she slept through all that racket which I heard from here about 1km away is totally beyond me. Mind you I had to wake her up during the Gulf war to tell her to run to her “safe room” as she slept through the sirens!!
    Its a terrible sign of the times that we now are scared in our hometown because of homegrown mobsters.

  3. peteca1 says:

    Anne … its organized crime. Just Israeli-style. It cant be surprising – someone must be moving drugs inside Israel. Someone must profit from prostitution, sales of illegal videos, counterfeit goods. Since your security services are very strong, it follows that the criminal network must also be powerful and bound by very strong pledges of loyalty – or it would not exist. Clearly, it does exist. If you want to know more … dig deeper. Dont get yourself hurt, but your current article is looking at things from a very surface level. Crime syndicates make big money, so this money is flowing inside Israel for sure. And probably it crosses boundaries and borders in ways you barely suspect.

    Pete, USA

    • anneinpt says:

      Oh, don’t worry Pete, we’re not naive here in Israel. We know that we have our own home-grown criminals besides having to contend with terrorism and enemies beyond our borders. What bothers me is that the police obviously know who the criminals are – they announced whose car it was that was bombed almost immediately – yet the crime bosses are sitting in their beautiful homes right in my neighbourhood, and the criminals have no sense of honour or public conscience and are bringing their war right to our streets, no matter that innocent civilians are literally getting caught in the crossfire.

      I would say that the police will only act when someone gets killed, but innocent people have already lost their lives and still the police are doing nothing, at least visibly.

  4. Earl says:

    We had a similar situation in Canada a few decades back with biker gangs. Yves “Apache” Trudeau calmly dispatched 43 “liabilities”- he was dam’ professional at what he did for a living- and the public could not have cared less. And the Surete du Quebec knew exactly what was going on. But another biker bomb blew up a rival’s Jeep, killing an innocent 13 year old boy. And, by G-d- the Canadian Parliament quickly passed some of the toughest anti-gang/gang-property-seizure legislation in the world. This is what IL has to do immediately to cut the head off this hydra.

    • anneinpt says:

      Very good advice Earl, but the way things work in this country I can’t see it happening. The only people who get their property seized are settlers who buy property from the Arabs and then the Arabs complain they wuz robbed.

      I wonder, and fear, how many innocents will be killed or maimed before such legislation as you suggest gets proposed, let alone passed.

  5. JudyPT says:

    Anne this is the same stupid situation we have in Gaza. When they send over rockets we bomb tunnels and warehouses ,why dont we destroy these places as soon as we discover them?If the police know the whereabouts of these crime families surely they can disrupt their daily lives by detainingthem for aslong as possible as often as possible.

  6. Betty says:

    Is it really that the police lack the legal means to act or are they part of the action and being bribed to keep shtum as happens in many countries?

  7. Andrea says:

    Dear Anne organized crime is spreading anywhere irrespective of religion or ethnicity. Sad enough criminals co operate in their deals and not concern for Middle East historical divisons. Hezbollah, Jewish and Palestians – the ones of them involved in crime to different extent – are usually in agreement when issue is drug or prostitution.
    I really appreciated your honest report anyway – as Israeli woman you are free to write the truth. If you were Palestianian or Egyptians well, saying the same thing would lead your blog to its last day. Having said that I can assure that my country is surely in worse conditions. Mafia(s) have not reluctancy in killing children and crime is one of the most profitable business. I admit a concern : is it maybe the family based mediterranean society favouring criminal connection to impunity ? Let’s say : criminals are everywhere in each part of the world but orginized crime fluorishes more in some countries than others . Why? …and sorry for my not politically correct question : which community in Israel is more affected by mob ? This could help to understand origin of this phenomenon without of course any discriminatory intent.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thanks for your reply Andrea and welcome back. We’ve missed you!

      I don’t know whether the mafia, or organized crime, is more prevalent in Mediterranean countries. Just look at the USA for example. It’s certainly not Mediterranean! Or Russia for that matter. I think the Mediterranean organized crime have been glamorised by movies like the Godfather, where in fact they are much more dangerous and not glamorous at all.

      You ask which Israeli community is most affected by the mob. It’s hard to tell. It used to be the Middle Eastern (Sephardi) community that had the worst reputation but I’m not sure that it was fair to blame them. After all, one of the biggest mobsters in Israeli history is called Rosenthal – a nice European name. Later, the Russians got a bad name, but that too has faded into history. Nowadays I think it emanates from all sectors. Partly that’s because Israeli society in general is homogenizing – Ashkenazim and Sephardim, immigrants and sabras are all inter-marrying and producing new generations of Israelis, without racial or sectoral relationships.This is all to the good. Except when it comes to the mob of course.

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