Police investigators warned one of the leading figures in the Israeli underworld, Itzik Abergil, they have "credible" intelligence that two foreign hit men have arrived in Israel with a contract to kill him.
Police learned recently that at least two contract killers, believed to be from the Commonwealth of Independent States, have come to Israel at the behest of a rival crime family, which is embroiled in a vendetta with the Abergil crime syndicate.
The police investigations squad in Petach Tikva expects to warn Abergil formally in the coming days of the contract on his life.
Abergil, believed to be the head of a major underworld organization, has accumulated a number of powerful enemies and survived several assassination attempts. He is also believed to have sent out killers to deal with his enemies.
In December 2002, one of Abergil's main rivals, underworld kingpin Ze'ev Rosenstein, was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to assassinate him and his brother Meir.
In 2005, two girls were killed in Ramle by shots fired at a hall where Abergil was celebrating. Police believe the two dead were innocent victims of a mistake in identifying the target.
Several months later, Abergil's car was targeted by gunmen. No one was injured, and a police search of the area uncovered a light anti-tank rocket ready for use, plus other arms.
The latest vendetta of the Abergil family apparently involves the Alperon crime organization. Until recently, the two crime families were believed to be allies. Relations soured in the past year, and violence has erupted between them several times.
Their rivalry is believed to be fueled by competition over bottle recycling in central Israel, a business that earns millions of shekels annually and is largely controlled by the underworld.
An incident that received a great deal of public attention occured last January, at the entrance to the Sha'arei Ha'ir building in Ramat Gan, where Abergil lives. Yaakov and Aryeh Alperon, along with some of their gang, are suspected of attacking Abergil there, along with one of his cronies, Mottie Hassin, who was moderately injured.
A month later, charges were brought against Aryeh Alperon and two of his associates at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court for assault and causing grievous injuries to Abergil and Hassin.
According to the indictment, Abergil had come out of the building and Yaakov Alperon shouted to him: "Stop talking about the Alperons." Abergil, allegedly, did not respond and walked away, and then one of Alperon's cronies ran after him and began hitting him in the head.
Five months later, it is believed that the Abergil's tried to avenge the attack. Police say their intelligence indicated an assassination attempt was in the making against one of the Alperons.
Detectives following a car with three members of the Abergil crime family were led to the neighborhood of Nissim Alperon. The detectives, suspecting that Abergil gang members were planning to attack Alperon, blocked the path of their car. In response, one of those in the car emerged, shooting at the officers, injuring one of them. The officers returned fire and killed the gunman, Avishai Balkar, and arrested the other two in the car.
Now, according to police intelligence, hired guns have been brought in from abroad to target Abergil. This is not the first time contract killers have been brought to Israel: In late 2003, four citizens of Belarus were arrested on suspicion of planning to assassinate Nissim and Yaakov Alperon, as well as Shoni Gavrieli.
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