Cousin of Former MK Inbal Gavrieli Gunned Down in Holon Sands

Ronen Gavrieli, 35, a cousin of former Likud MK Inbal Gavrieli, was murdered over the weekend in the area of Moledet sands in Holon. Police suspect that Gavrieli, who it is believed was involved in collecting protection money in Holon and the environs, was caught in a dispute between the Gavrieli and Abergil crime families.

On Friday, Ronen's mother filed a complaint with the police, saying that he had been missing since Tuesday and she expressed concern that his life was in danger. Detectives began questioning informants in the underworld, and police started extensive searches in the Holon and Rishon LeZion areas.

A little after 5 PM yesterday, Gavrieli's body was found in the dunes near Moledet sands, southeast of Holon. He had been shot in the head from close range. Nearby, police found his motorcycle, which they believe he used to drive to a meeting with his killers.

Once word spread that the body had been found, Gavrieli family members arrived at the scene and were visibly upset, requiring police to be called in to keep public order.

Gavrieli did not have a serious criminal record, and never served prison time for the crimes he was suspected of committing, including extortion. However, police recently learned that he had become involved in collecting "protection" money from businesses in Holon, and detectives are checking whether this led to the murder.

Police found that Gavrieli's home in Holon had an extensive closed circuit camera system ensuring that all access points to the residence were under surveillance. The detectives are also checking the possibility that Gavrieli, whom police do not consider to have been a heavyweight in Israel's crime scene, had been caught up in a dispute over an Internet casino operation. His uncle, Ezra "Shoni" Gavrieli, admitted that he ran an illegal gambling operation with the Abergil family after he was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and tax evasion worth tens of millions of shekels.

Haaretz has learned that members of the Gavrieli family have tried to shake off suspicions against them in the case and blame the Abergils, and some experts believe that Ronen Gavrieli's murder was meant to serve was a threat to the Gavrieli family.

Ronen's father, Haim, is considered the top criminal figure in the Gavrieli family, and one of the hardest criminals of the 1980s. In 1987 he and his brother, Aryeh, were jailed after being convicted for drug dealing, smuggling, extortion, forgery and fraud. Haim Gavrieli was released in 1992 and Aryeh in 1989.