There were fears that Tel Aviv could be plunged into an all-out mob war after the patriarch of one of Israel’s most powerful crime families was assassinated in a midday attack. Yaakov Alperon (also called Don Alperon) died Monday after a bomb detonated under his rental car, also injuring three bystanders. The explosion was apparently set off by remote control; the bomb was likely planted earlier while the 53-year-old was inside the city courthouse where one of his sons was facing extortion and assault charges.
The hit may have been the result of a dispute between Alperon and two other crime gangs over a multi-million-dollar-a-year recycling racket. Residents now fear police won’t be able to suppress a war in Tel Aviv’s already violent underworld. Gangs have not been shy about using anti-tank missiles and grenades in public attempts to kill rival leaders. In 2003, three bystanders were killed and 18 wounded in a street-bombing attempt (the seventh) on the life of gang leader Zeev Rosenstein. Rosenstein walked away with scratches.
Alperon was said to command the third largest organized crime group in Israel, and was known for dating famous women. Tel Aviv police Cmdr. Ilan Franco said the potential consequences of the “extremely serious event” were clear to the force, adding it was likely the result of an “internal conflict” within the crime world. That was a case of stating the obvious: in 2006 Alperon stabbed rival gang leader Amir Mulner in the neck when turf talks between them went wrong (he was never charged). At Alperon’s funeral on Tuesday, one of his sons said, “We will never forgive—God will avenge his blood. We will find the man who did this. I’ll send this man to God. He won’t have a grave because I’ll cut off his arms, his head, and his legs.”