A loud blast rocked north Tel Aviv on Monday after a rented car carrying reputed crime boss Yaakov Alperon exploded near a bus stop. Magen David Adom rescue forces reported that the person in the car, later identified as Alperon, was killed and three bystanders were lightly injured.
Alperon attended a court hearing earlier Monday.
The incident took place shortly before 12 pm on the corner of Yehuda Maccabi Street and Namir Road. Large police and MDA forces were dispatched to the area.
Zion, the manager of a photo shop on Yehuda Hamaccabi Street, told Ynet, "There was a very loud explosion, on Namir Road, between Bavli and Pinkas Streets. A car exploded there. Many ambulances and police arrived in the area. The police closed the road to traffic."
Scene of attack (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Yair, who owns a barber's shop in the area, added, "We heard a loud explosion and the earth moved. There are a lot of ambulances arriving here."
Rachel, who works in a local supermarket, said, "We don’t know if it was a criminal assassination. Everyone is talking about it here. There's a big mess. The entire corner of Yehuda Hamaccabi and Namir Road is blocked and there are traffic jams. Ambulances evacuated the injured."
A 13-yer-old boy was injured in the blast while waiting for a bus. An elderly man suffered mild cuts while driving behind the car which exploded. They were both evacuated to the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv in light condition. Another person was evacuated to the same hospital shortly afterwards with light wounds.
'Murder will set off underworld war'
Former Tel Aviv District Police Commander David Tzur estimated that the Alperson assassination would set off a more intense underworld war.
"The Alperon family members will find out where it came from, and then they'll respond," he told Ynet several hours after the killing.
Tzur estimated that "there won't be an immediate or instinctive response to the murder". He found it difficult to point to type of retaliation, as he believes this crime family is not like other crime organizations, which usually hire hitmen "to do the job for them".
"The members of this family have been directly involved in the conflicts, so it's unclear what will happen. This family executes its own conflicts."
Meanwhile, the police investigation into the assassination continues and is not expected to be easy, as Alperon has collected many enemies during his years as head of a crime organization. Many of them have been waiting to "settle the account" with him.
Yaakov Alperon, 54, was considered one of the prominent figures of the Israeli underworld and served as the head of the Alperon crime family for decades.
A number of attempts have been made on Alperon's life, including a grenade thrown at his home in 2001 and a car bomb in 2003. Last year, police defused an explosive device found in his son Elad's car, and in 2004 an indictment was filed against four Belarusian citizens for trying to murder Alperon and his associates.
Alperon served a number of prison terms and was arrested several times over the past few years for offences such stabbing, assault, blackmail and threats and recently served a 10-month sentence as part of a plea bargain.
Meital Yasur Beit-Or, Amit Schneider and Roni Lifshitz contributed to this report