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Israel - A Promised Land for Organized Crime?

Israel - A Promised Land for Organized Crime?

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Published by A.J. MacDonald, Jr.
(SBU) Given the growing reach and lethal methods of Israeli OC, blocking the travel of known OC figures to the United States is a
matter of great concern to Post. Through collaboration with Israeli and U.S. law enforcement authorities, Post has developed an
extensive database and placed lookouts for OC figures and their foot soldiers. Nevertheless, the above visa cases demonstrate the challenges that have arisen since the termination of the Visas Shark in September 2008. Unlike OC groups from the former Soviet Union, Italy, China, and Central America, application of INA 212(a)(3)(A)(ii) against Israeli OC is not specifically authorized per Foreign Affairs Manual 40.31 N5.3. As such, Israelis who are known to work for or belong to OC families are not automatically ineligible for travel to the United States.
(SBU) Given the growing reach and lethal methods of Israeli OC, blocking the travel of known OC figures to the United States is a
matter of great concern to Post. Through collaboration with Israeli and U.S. law enforcement authorities, Post has developed an
extensive database and placed lookouts for OC figures and their foot soldiers. Nevertheless, the above visa cases demonstrate the challenges that have arisen since the termination of the Visas Shark in September 2008. Unlike OC groups from the former Soviet Union, Italy, China, and Central America, application of INA 212(a)(3)(A)(ii) against Israeli OC is not specifically authorized per Foreign Affairs Manual 40.31 N5.3. As such, Israelis who are known to work for or belong to OC families are not automatically ineligible for travel to the United States.

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Published by: A.J. MacDonald, Jr. on Aug 03, 2013
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Viewing cable 09TELAVIV1098, ISRAEL: A PROMISED LAND FOR ORGANIZEDCRIME?09TELAVIV10982009-05-15 14:14UNCLASSIFIEDEmbassy Tel AvivVZCZCXYZ0018RR RUEHWEBDE RUEHTV #1098/01 1351414ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY AD66A605 MSI9229-632)R 151414Z MAY 09 ZDSFM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1845INFO RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 2041RUCNFB/FBI WASHDC//INTD/CTD/CT WATCH// RHMFIUU/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHDCRUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHDC 0068RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 7509UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001098C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (CORRECTED ADDEE)DEPT FOR CA/VO/L/C; CA/VO/L/A; CA/FPP SARAH SEXTON; INR/TIPOFF; DSOFACROME FOR DHS/ICECA/FPP: PLEASE PASS TO DOJ LISA HOLTYN AND BRUCE OHRSIPDISE.O. 12958:N/ATAGS:CVIS SNAR CMGT KFRD KCOR KCRM KTIP PINR IS SUBJECT: ISRAEL: A PROMISED LAND FOR ORGANIZED CRIME?Summary--------- ¶1. (SBU) Organized crime (OC) has longstanding roots in Israel, butin recent years there has been a sharp increase in the reach andimpact of OC networks. In seeking a competitive advantage in suchlucrative trades as narcotics and prostitution, Israeli crime groupshave demonstrated their ability and willingness to engage in violentattacks on each other with little regard for innocent bystanders.The Israeli National Police (INP) and the courts have engaged in a
ISRAEL: A PROMISED LAND FOR ORGANIZED CRIME? 
 
vigorous campaign against organized crime leaders, including thecreation of a new specialized anti-OC unit, but they remain unableto cope with the full scope of the problem. Organized crime inIsrael now has global reach, with direct impact inside the UnitedStates. Post is currently utilizing all available tools to denyIsraeli OC figures access to the United States in order to preventthem from furthering their criminal activities on U.S. soil. EndSummary.Crime War Hits the Streets of Israel------------------------------------- ¶2. (SBU) In November 2008, Israeli crime boss Yaakov Alperon wasassassinated in broad daylight in a gruesome attack on the streetsof Tel Aviv, only about a mile away from the Embassy. According toseveral media accounts, a motor scooter pulled up alongsideAlperon's car and the rider attached a sophisticated explosivedevice with a remote detonator to the car door. The bomb killedAlperon and his driver, and injured two innocent pedestrians. Thehit was the latest in a series of violent attacks and reprisals, andindicated a widening crime war in Israel. ¶3. In July 2008, a 31-year-old Israeli woman was killed by a straybullet on the beach in Bat Yam in front of her husband and twochildren during a failed assassination attempt on noted crime figureRami Amira. In a feud between the Abutbul and Shirazi clans, crimeboss Shalom "Charlie" Abutbul was shot by two gunmen in September2008, an attack that also wounded three bystanders. In December2008, Charlie Abutbul's son-in-law, Nati Ohayon, was gunned down inhis car in Netanya. Before the fatal bombing of his car, Alperonhimself had survived at least three previous attempts on his lifebefore his assassination, and was engaged in an ongoing feud withthe rival Abergil clan (although there are numerous suspects inAlperon's murder). The day after Alperon's death, two members ofthe Abergil syndicate were sentenced for conspiring to killAlperon's brother, Nissim, in May 2008. ¶4. (SBU) In response to rising concerns for public safety, formerPrime Minister Olmert convened an emergency meeting of top lawenforcement officials, cabinet members, and prosecutors in December ¶2008. He promised to add 1,000 officers to the INP and to allocateapproximately NIS 340 million (USD 81 million) to improve the INP'stechnical capabilities. In general, the rise in OC-related violencehas led some public figures to call for emergency state powers toattack criminal organizations, and OC became a minor but importantissue in the February 2009 Knesset elections. Former Labor Party MK
ISRAEL: A PROMISED LAND FOR ORGANIZED CRIME? 
 
Ephraim Sneh publicly decried criminal extortion in his campaignads, only to have his car torched in apparent retaliation outsidehis home in Herzliya.Background------------ ¶5. (SBU) Organized criminal activity is not a new phenomenon inIsrael, and major crime families are well known to the Israelipublic (the Alperons even featured in a recent reality televisionprogram). Five or six crime families have traditionally dominatedOC in Israel, although the names and makeup of these syndicates havefluctuated in recent years. The Abergil, Abutbul, Alperon, andRosenstein organizations are among the most well known, but recentarrests and assassinations have created a power vacuum at the top.New names such as Mulner, Shirazi, Cohen and Domrani have movedquickly to fill the gap. Other up-and-coming groups include theHarari, Ohana, and Kdoshim families. There are also a number ofrival families active in the underworld of Israel's Arab sector. ¶6. (SBU) Traditional OC activities in Israel include illegalneighborhood casinos, prostitution rings, extortion, and loansharking, with each family controlling a different geographicregion. The Alperon family, for instance, dominates the Sharonregion, while the Abutbul operation is based in the coastal city ofNetanya. The focus is largely on easy money guaranteed by thelimited use of violence. Criminal involvement in the recyclingbusiness, for example, has been well covered in the press. OCfamilies collect bottles illegally from municipal recycling bins andrestaurants, return them at the collection centers claiming twicethe actual numbers, and pocket the change for millions in profits.Not Your Grandfather's Mob--------------------------- ¶7. (SBU) Despite their notoriety, OC figures have generally beenviewed as a nuisance to be handled by local police. Law enforcementresources were directed to more existential security threats fromterrorists and enemy states. In recent years, however, the rules ofthe game have changed. According to Yaakov Lappin of the JerusalemPost, the old school of Israel OC is giving way to a new, moreviolent, breed of crime. Lappin told conoffs that the new style ofcrime features knowledge of hi-tech explosives acquired from servicein the Israeli Defense Forces, and a willingness to useindiscriminate violence, at least against rival gang leaders. New
ISRAEL: A PROMISED LAND FOR ORGANIZED CRIME? 

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