Taar Lala, 26, of Jaffa, was shot dead in broad daylight Saturday on Herbert Samuel Street in Tel Aviv, near the Hatahana leisure complex. A motorcyclist pulled up alongside Lala’s car and shot him several times through the window, only meters from where thousands of people were spending what was supposed to be a pleasant Shabbat afternoon.
Last Monday, a booby-trapped car blew up on Moshe Dayan Street in Tel Aviv, and two days earlier a man was killed when his car blew up on Sheshet Hayamim Boulevard in south Tel Aviv, apparently the victim of a gangland slaying.
Israelis’ personal security is at a nadir, but Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino seems to believe that self-congratulation and the selective release of data can change reality. Over the past three months there have been 20 mob hits and assassination attempts, making Danino’s proud announcement that “In 2013, crime dropped sharply by 30 percent … with a drop of 25 percent in car break-ins and 50 percent in car thefts,” somewhat less than reassuring.
The police claim that 60 percent of murders are solved is also misleading. That statistic doesn’t let on that most of the murders solved are killings within families or those in which the killer is caught near the scene of the crime. Police have significantly less success solving murders of those targeted by organized crime.
When Danino visited the Acre police station last week and addressed the issue of mob hits, he said, “The problem here is not just the police … for example, the availability of explosives. Most of the explosive devices are standard charges, whose source is usually the Israeli Defense Forces.” This is a puzzling statement that seems to be holding the army responsible for gangland murders. By the same token one could resolve the stabbing incidents at Tel Aviv nightclubs by blaming the companies that make knives.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday remarked on Saturday’s killing, saying, “Israeli citizens are not the ones who should be afraid to walk freely in the street; the ones who should be worried are the members of the crime families, who must be put behind bars, and quickly.” Netanyahu is right, but to make this happen, the Israel Police and its commissioner have to act effectively and determinedly against crime organizations. The personal security of every Israeli is meant to be Danino’s top priority, not public relations.
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