Woman Killed in Front of Her Children Had Husband Linked to Crime Gangs

‘I knew that if I crossed red lines and cooperated with the police to save the lives of my wife and children, I’d never be able to return to organized crime,’ he once wrote.

Relative of state's witness shot dead in Be’er Sheva. March 7, 2016.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The woman who was murdered in Be’er Sheva in front of her children Monday wasn’t under police protection, even though her ex-husband, a known violent criminal, had threatened to kill her repeatedly, her neighbors said yesterday.

Another time, the ex-husband threatened to hurt other criminals’ children so that they would avenge themselves by hurting her. He had also served as a state’s witness against a crime kingpin.

The ex-husband, who is being held without bail while standing trial on domestic violence charges, even continued to threaten his ex-wife from jail. The couple divorced a few months ago.

“We never saw the police here; only she and her children were here,” said a man who lived in the same apartment building as the murdered woman.

Another neighbor, who said the woman had moved in less than six months ago, also said he never saw the police there. A third neighbor ruled out the possibility of plainclothes policemen, saying she never saw the woman accompanied by any unknown person.

The indictment filed against the woman’s ex-husband in October detailed numerous threats to murder her, including during phone calls from jail. It said he threatened her on three separate occasions in September alone.

“We’ve gathered information on you, we’ll take you from the house,” he said in one case. “Before I’m released or when I’m released, they’ll become orphans. I’ll murder you, I’ll slaughter you.”

But her ex-husband’s threats weren’t the only danger the woman faced. The couple and their children had also been in a witness protection program after the husband served as a state’s witness against a crime kingpin.

They spent several years abroad, but eventually left the program. Over the past half year, Be’er Sheva’s welfare authorities have been dealing with the family.

In a blog the husband published in 2008, he described his life as a criminal, his decision to turn state’s witness, and his deteriorating relationship with the criminal he testified against.

“I understood that N. had paid money to people so they’d hurt my wife and children while I was in jail,” he wrote, adding that the crime kingpin suspected him of having joined a rival criminal organization.

“On the one hand, all my life I wanted to be in this world, and I knew that if I crossed red lines and cooperated with the police to save the lives of my wife and children, I’d never be able to return to this world. But the thought of my wife and children being hurt is causing me to be rejected by the world of crime I was so drawn to.”

People can be removed from the witness protection program for various reasons – because they want to leave, because they failed to abide by the program’s conditions, or because the threat to their lives is thought to have passed.

The Public Security Ministry, which runs the program, declined to say why this family was removed, but the murdered woman’s mother said yesterday that her daughter had wanted to return to Israel to be near her family.

The police said they couldn’t divulge details on whether a person had been threatened or what means were taken to protect him, but insisted that the force handled witnesses “carefully and professionally ... in a very long list of investigations that it conducts every year.”

They rejected the claim that they did nothing to protect the murdered woman from her ex-husband, noting that he was being held without bail on domestic violence charges precisely because he threatened her.