Text size

A convicted criminal survived an assassination attempt with only light injuries yesterday, in what police suspect might have been a gangland shooting.

Rafi Ben Shimol, 27, was walking down King George Street in Tel Aviv at about 8 A.M. yesterday, together with his wife and 5-year-old daughter, when an unknown assailant, who had apparently been lying in wait for him near Meir Park, fired several shots at him with a pistol. However, all but one of the bullets missed, and that one merely scratched his lower body.

The assailant fled on a motor scooter driven by another man.

The attack took place on one of Tel Aviv's main thoroughfares, just a few meters from a nursery school, when many parents were dropping off their children at the school.

Ben Shimol told police investigators he has no idea who the assailants were and that he has no enemies. Police said they are pursuing several different lines of inquiry, including the possibility that the assault is related to what they said was Ben Shimol's past involvement in the drug trade.

However, Haaretz has learned police are also investigating whether the attempted assassination may be related to Ben Shimol's ties with leading members of an underworld organization known as the Jerusalem Gang, among them Itzik Bar-Moha. Police suspect that some of the underworld figures with whom Ben Shimol was involved might be behind the shooting.

In 2006, Ben Shimol was convicted of involvement in an attempt to smuggle weapons to Bar-Moha while the latter was doing time in Ayalon Prison. Ben Shimol was sentenced to three years in jail and got out only recently.

Also yesterday, the head of the 'Dorei Dorot' non-profit organization which takes care of needy old people, was arrested on suspicion of embezzling funds.

The 58-year-old Lfar Sava woman was arrested on suspicion of stealing millions of shekels from the organization - the second time in the past year that a woman who is supposed to raise money for the needy has been arrested on suspicion of stealing from them instead.