Israel Police Suspect Explosion at Nazareth Health Office Is Mob Reprisal

In recent weeks, Health Ministry inspectors have been involved in an enforcement campaign against food businesses with suspected links to organized crime in the Arab community in Israel

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The Nazareth Health Ministry office on Tuesday, following the blast.
The Nazareth Health Ministry office on Tuesday, following the blast.

Police suspect that criminal gangs were behind an explosion at the entrance to the Health Ministry building in the northern town of Nazareth on Monday, after the office was involved in a crackdown campaign against a business with ties to an Arab crime. The explosion caused no injuries but damaged the building. 

In recent weeks, as part of police efforts to crack down on crime, Health Ministry inspectors have been involved in an enforcement campaign against food businesses, including butcher shops, in the north with suspected links to organized crime. Officials suspect that Monday's blast in Nazareth was in retaliation and a warning in response to the enforcement drive.

Police are also looking into the possibility that it was in response to a raid on a butcher shop in Netanya two weeks ago in which authorities confiscated 750 kilograms (1,650 pounds) of expired meat. The business allegedly had links to a crime organization in the north.

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In the meantime, police have ruled out the possibility that the blast was related to recent threats against senior Health Ministry officials over coronavirus restrictions and government efforts to encourage the population to get vaccinated.

In a related development, overnight between Monday and Tuesday, the police arrested 65 suspects thought to have links the illegal weapons trade in the Arab community, including the north, East Jerusalem and the so-called Triangle region of Arab communities. The aim of the operation was to nab the country's most important traders in illegal arms, the police said, describing it as the largest operation in the country's history from the standpoint of the number of arrests and the quantity of weapons seized.

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