Two people were killed and one suffered burns when a car blew up Sunday morning in south Tel Aviv. Police sources suspect the bombing was related to mobsters settling scores, not terrorism.
One of the victims had a history of violence, the police say. The other was known for gambling and loan-sharking.
The preliminary investigation revealed that the explosion took place in an Audi car, which went up in flames that spread to other vehicles.
The local police commander, Superintendent Dudi Malka, said at the scene that the explosion had been reported to the police by civilians. The team that arrived on the scene found two bodies in the back seat of the vehicle.
"We ruled out terrorism. This was a criminal incident. The details are known to police, and a fuller picture will be given later,” Malka said.
Magen David Adom paramedics at the scene, Simcha Simandoyev and Gal Peer, said that when they arrived, they saw thick smoke and two vehicles burning. When they approached they saw two men in their 30s evincing no sign of life and determined that they were dead at the scene, the two said.
Avi Marcus, a paramedic from United Hatzalah, said that several people in the area were treated for anxiety.
“It was a serious explosion," Mohammed, an employee at a cafe located a few meters from the blast site, told Haaretz. "I had my back to the counter and suddenly everything was shaking. One of the windows shattered, and people sitting outside were hit by glass from the blast, and part of the ceiling collapsed.”
A local resident said that the blast knocked out the neighborhood's electricity. "It was very powerful. It was as if something had landed on the whole city," she said. "Nobody cares that this was a matter of ‘settling scores.’ It is scary."
One of the dead is thought to be an associate of the Musli family, one of Israel’s largest crime organizations. The Muslis operate in the greater Tel Aviv area. This particular family member had spent six and a half years in prison after being convicted - with other family members - of arms trafficking and possessing explosives, in 2005. After his release, he returned to the crime organization. The police say he rose high in the organization ranks.
The second victim, a 36-year-old Tel Aviv resident, was known to police for loan-sharking. He had sat in prison for nine months on a charge of extortion, for which he had expressed remorse.