Jaffa Gang Suspected of Plotting to Kill Sheikh, Blame Rightists for Crime

Attorney Gur Finkelstein, who represents the Scientology Center in Israel, was detained several weeks for allegedly hiring this gang to help him with his own criminal endeavors.

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Israel Police forces have uncovered a Jaffa-based gang allegedly behind a series of attacks and attempted assassinations in the Tel Aviv area, including a plot to kill a senior sheikh of a local mosque, it was revealed after a gag order was lifted on Tuesday.

Those mobsters are suspected of plotting to plant an explosive device at the Hassan Bek Mosque in Jaffa after Friday prayers, to kill a senior sheikh.

Scene of Jaffa car bombing, May 22, 2010.Credit: David Bachar

According to details of the case, the suspects planned to pin the assassination on right-wing activists by spraying the word 'price tag' nearby, in reference to the style of revenge taken by extremist settlers over the government's policy in the West Bank.

Attorney Gur Finkelstein, who represents the Scientology Center in Israel, was detained several weeks ago for allegedly hiring this gang to supply him with weapons and assist him in his own endeavors.

He emerged as a suspect in a series of crimes after police uncovered the Jaffa gang, though he was not linked to plans to kill the sheikh.

A string of high-profile crimes have been attributed to Finkelstein, include attempts to burn down the Scientology Center, and also the assault and plot to assassinate the director of Tel Aviv's planning and construction department, Shoteh Hovel.

Police believe that Finkelstein hired the Jaffa gang to help him burn down the center so that he could benefit from future construction. The gang is also suspected of attempting to kill Finkelstein's ex-wife's lover on his behalf.

Police treated the bomb planted in Hovel's car as an attempted hit, but had not yet revealed leads on the alleged perpetrator. Hovel was arrested in 2009 on a series of corruption charges, including bribery, breach of trust, money laundering and tax fraud. He was dismissed from his position during the investigation, and returned after the charges were dropped a year later.

Finkelstein became a suspect in the case after police arrested several mobsters with which he had contact, who were suspected of planting a bomb in the car of Jaffa businessman Eli Zakak.

One of the suspects, Ramzi Bakar, had worked for Zakak for three years. The two had argued and Bakar decided to seek revenge. Together with the other suspects, Bakar decided to attach an explosive device to Zakak's car, which was lightly damaged as a result of the blast.

The detention of the suspects led police investigators to the home of another suspect – Abu al-Adas, who had an explosive device and a pistol in his possession.

At the time that the Tel Aviv police were investigating the attempted murder of Zakak, Haifa police made significant progress in investigations into attempts to murder Daniel Cohen, a man with no known criminal past, who told police that he had no idea who would have tried to kill him.

On November 21 last year, an explosive device hidden on a car belonging to Cohen was set off on Kvirim Haifa Road. Cohen and his four-year-old daughter were injured in the explosion. Prior to the car bombing, there were two attempts to kidnap Cohen, the first one being on Rosh Hashana eve.

An earlier undercover investigation had led police to Finkelstein, while other leads pointed to Cohen's involvement in activities such as a conflict over the privatization of Kibbutz Metzar, where Cohen was a member, and also investigations of criminal influence in Hamat Gader, near the Sea of Galilee, where he serves as a director.



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