Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

Israeli 'mafia' boss assassinated

By Paul Wood
BBC News, Jerusalem

Police inspect the car Don Alperon was driving when the attack happened
Don Alperon was said to run Tel Aviv's third largest crime family

One of the leading figures in Israel's mafia-style organised crime gangs has been assassinated in a car bomb attack.

Yaakov Alperon, known as "Don Alperon", was driving his saloon car through a northern suburb of Tel Aviv when the vehicle was torn apart by a huge blast.

Two bystanders were also slightly injured in the explosion, one a 13-year-old boy waiting at a bus stop.

The attack has raised concerns that an Israeli mob war could be about to spin out of control.

Civilian fears

Little was left of the car after the explosion, which was apparently set off by remote control just before midday.

Don Alperon's body was seen slumped over the steering wheel.

A police spokesman said, with understatement, that the security forces were now assessing the situation to see what would develop in Tel Aviv.

This is the latest and most serious attack in an Israeli mob war which some fear may once again be coming to the boil.

That is worrying because of the lack of concern shown by the mobsters for civilian casualties.

Anti-tank missiles, grenades and bombs have all been used in Israeli mob hits.

In one failed attempt to kill a rival gang leader in 2003, three people died when a bomb explosion hit a passing bus.

In another attack, a whole building was destroyed while the intended target, another mafia leader, walked away.

Don Alperon was a flamboyant figure known for dating famous and beautiful women from Israeli show-business.

He was said to run Tel Aviv's third-largest crime family.

If Tel Aviv is in for another period of bloody rivalry between the city's mafia gangs, residents will want to know if the police are capable of stopping it.

That has not always seemed to be the case in the past.

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