Tag Archives: Tel Aviv

One killed and at least 13 injured in Tel Aviv stabbings

Three separate attacks by Palestinians across Israel come on same day US vice-president Joe Biden arrived for talks with leaders Netanyahu and Abbas

Three attacks by Palestinians in the space of just over an hour and a half left one dead and at least 13 injured across Israel on Tuesday evening, in incidents that including a mass stabbing in Jaffa during a visit to the coastal city by US vice-president Joe Biden.

The person killed in Jaffa was reportedly an American tourist.

In the spate of attacks – in east Jerusalem, Petah Tikva and Jaffa – attackers used guns and knives against both Israeli police and passersby in one of the of the worst recent days in several months of almost daily attacks.

They coincided with the arrival of Biden on Tuesday for meetings with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

Biden was reportedly visiting the Peres Centre for Peace, a mile away from where the stabbing took place. Initial accounts of the attacks were confused and contradictory.

The worst incident saw a Palestinian stab three Israelis near Jaffa’s port before attacking three more near a popular restaurant on the city’s boardwalk.

An eyewitness identified as Yosef told the Ynet news website: “The terrorist, who was young and wearing a hoodie, came from the Jaffa Port area. Once he was on the boardwalk, he attacked a tourist couple. The woman was stabbed several times, tried to flee, and fell.

“The terrorist then continued to stab the man, and stabbed him in the leg. I was in my car. I ran to him, took the aluminum pylon, and hit the terrorist in the back. He tried to stab me, then he ran.”

The assailant, later identified as a 22-year year old Palestinian man from Qalqiliya, was shot dead by police as he tried to flee towards neighbouring Tel Aviv. Hospital officials later reported that one of those stabbed had died of their injuries.

The series of assaults began with an attack on an ultra-orthodox man who was followed into a liquor store in Petah Tikvah and stabbed.

The victim and the shop’s owner managed to overpower the assailant, who was reportedly stabbed to death with his own weapon.

Jerusalem was the scene of the second attack shortly after when a gunman opened fire on Israeli police in Salah e-Din street in east Jerusalem, seriously injuring two officers before he was killed himself.

Police later identified the gunman as Fouad Tamimi, 25, from the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Isawiya.


Alleged Kingpin of Israeli Organized Crime Ring Gets 32 Years

Prosecutors say Moshe Mastri led the U.S. outpost of the crime ring, trafficking large amounts of drugs and laundering money around the world and using violence and threats to get what he wanted.

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — A Los Angeles man who prosecutors say was a leader of an Israeli organized crime ring that moved drugs and money across the globe was sentenced Friday to 32 years in prison.

Moshe Matsri, 49, was sentenced in federal court in Los Angeles on a slew of money laundering, drug and extortion charges. Prosecutors recommended he be sentenced to 34 years in prison, while his own attorney argued for a 12-year term.

Screenshot from surveillance footage of alleged Israeli leader of organized crime ring in Los Angeles, Moshe Matsri. (Screenshot)
Screenshot from surveillance footage of alleged Israeli leader of organized crime ring in Los Angeles, Moshe Matsri. (Screenshot)

Prosecutors describe Matsri, also known as “Moshe the Religious,” as a well-known crime figure in the San Fernando Valley with significant ties to the Israel-based Abergil crime family.

They say he laundered large amounts of money around the world that helped fuel the international drug trade, and in one instance, negotiated a deal involving “enough cocaine to get the entire city of Dallas high.”

“Matsri is linked to one of the most notorious organized crime rings in Israel and on his own operated a vast international conspiracy,” Ari Dekofsky, an FBI spokesperson, told KCAL9’s Randy Paige.

Matsri’s attorney, Dean Steward, said after Friday’s sentencing that he’ll appeal the lengthy prison term. With two years served after his arrest, Matsri would be nearly 80 by the time he gets out of prison, tantamount to a life sentence, Steward told U.S. District Judge S. James Otero.

Steward argued that his client is a loving husband and father, and a deeply religious and caring man, cooking for his entire synagogue every Friday.

“The person that I know and the person that is so deeply involved in his temple is a salvageable person,” Steward said. “This is somebody who, given a chance to have a life, can change the things that he has done.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robyn Bacon said Matsri very well may be a good family man, but he was also a major player in the drug-trafficking world.

“The sentence should reflect just how serious the crimes these guys were committing were, and how willing Moshe Matsri was to use violence to get what he wanted,” Bacon said.

Matsri was arrested in July 2013, along with several other members of the organization, including a man in Belgium and another in the Netherlands, in a coordinated international investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department. Matsri’s brother was arrested by Israeli authorities, as well, Bacon said.

Prosecutors say Matsri and “a network of trusted individuals” conducted complex, layered transactions to wire money through shell accounts in locations around the world, including Cyprus and Gibraltar.

Bacon said an undercover investigator posing as a drug trafficker was introduced to Matsri as the man “who could 100 percent take care” of all a drug trafficker’s needs in Los Angeles.

Later, prosecutors say Matsri agreed to help two undercover agents posing as a drug trafficker and a Los Angeles associate transport cocaine from Los Angeles to Utah.

He also planned to ship 20 kilograms of cocaine from Panama to Israel, and proposed a deal to buy 100 kilograms of cocaine for sale in New York, prosecutors said.

Among the other men arrested with Matsri, two pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison terms of up to 3 1/2 years. Three more are set for trial in the next year. A sixth, Shay Paniry, of Studio City, was sentenced Thursday to more than 17 years in prison on drug and money laundering charges.

Matsri was born in Tel Aviv, Israel to parents who had fled Iraq because of religious persecution, according to court documents. Matsri, who served in the Israei military, and his wife moved to the U.S. in 1996. They have five children between 6 and 18 years old.

In October, a federal jury found Matsri guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering, to distribute cocaine, and conspiracy to commit extortion.

FBI agents assigned to the case told CBS Los Angeles that Matsri was living a “double life.” On the one hand, he regularly attended an Orthodox synagogue in the Valley, wouldn’t conduct business on the Sabbath and was a devoted family man with five children.

But, on the other hand, they say, he was at the top of an organized crime syndicate that authorities say used violence and intimidation to enforce its activities.

“He is considered a major crime figure. He dealt internationally and throughout the United States. He had a complex network of associates and he used those associates to potentially traffic drugs across the state line,” Dekofsky said.

Top kingpin among suspects in major organized crime bust

Crime boss Yitzhak Abergil, seen in court on May 20, 2014. (photo credit: FLASH90)

Yitzhak Abergil suspected in attempted hit on underworld rival Zeev Rosenstein that killed three bystanders in Tel Aviv in 2003

Israeli kingpin Yitzhak Abergil was among dozens of suspects scooped up by police in what has been described as a major underworld bust, according to new details from the case publication on Tuesday.

Abergil, who is already in prison, is suspected of involvement in a failed attempt to target another top mobster, Zeev Rosenstein, over a decade ago in an attack that killed three bystanders.

Some 44 suspects were set to attend remand hearings at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court Tuesday, and heavy police presence was reported around the building.

Among the allegations leveled at the detainees, who were said to include other leading crime bosses and their associates, are cases of murder, attempted murder, drugs, money laundering, and other offenses.

Abergil and his brother Meir were arrested in August 2008 in Israel following an American extradition request, after they were named in an indictment that charged them with using a San Fernando Valley gang to distribute one million MDMA pills, colloquially known as Ecstasy, and paying a gang member to kill a man for stealing a drug shipment. Abergil was handed over to US officials in January 2011.

In May 2012 Abergil pleaded guilty to the charges as part of a plea agreement, and was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison, of which he has already served over six (including time spent in prison prior to sentencing).

His brother Meir was sentenced to 42 months and has since been released. Abergil returned to Israel in January 2014 to serve the remainder of his sentence in an Israeli prison.

A gag order on the operation, dubbed “Case 512,” was partially lifted by the court on Tuesday, allowing more information to emerge on what police chief Yohanan Danino has termed “one of the most significant probes ever conducted against crime organizations in recent memory.”

Two state witnesses are said to have been involved in the investigation, which gained impetus in 2008, when police cracked the case of the failed 2003 assassination attempt on Rosenstein, leading to breakthroughs in six other murder cases and 15 attempted murders.

Underworld kingpin Zeev Rosenstein is seen at court in Ramleh, south of Tel Aviv, on January 12, 2010 (Yossi Zeliger / FLASH90)
Underworld kingpin Zeev Rosenstein is seen at court in Ramle, south of Tel Aviv, on January 12, 2010 (Yossi Zeliger / FLASH90)

Rosenstein, Abergil’s bitter rival at the time, was targeted in a bomb attack on a Tel Aviv street. Although Rosenstein survived the hit attempt, three innocent bystanders were killed and 18 injured in the blast, which occurred at the height of the Second Intifada, when Israelis were targeted by repeated Palestinian suicide bombings.

Rosenstein, like Abergil, later faced drugs trafficking charges in the US. He was extradited by Israel and in 2007 was sentenced to 12 years in prison, which he has been serving out in Israel.

Other crimes linked to Abergil include an earlier attempt on Rosenstein, the disappearance of Israeli mob figure Micah Ben-Harush in South Africa, and the operation of a massive international drug-trafficking ring, the Hebrew-language Walla news site reported.

In total, Case 512 encompasses some 40 individual investigations into crimes committed over the past 12 years by some 50 suspects.

On Sunday, over 50 suspects across Israel were apprehended in their homes and brought in for interrogation, with officers seizing vehicles, properties and bank accounts.

The raid was the culmination of a multi-year investigation conducted by Israel Police’s anti-fraud Lahav 433 unit together with the Tel Aviv district police.

Attorney Sharon Nahari, who is representing some of the suspects, played down the significance of the arrests, telling Army Radio it wasn’t the first time the police have made grandiose statements about arrests and organized crime.

“I think we need to wait and see exactly what the evidence is and how strong it is, and then draw conclusions,” he said.

Israeli officials have vowed over recent years to step up operations against organized crime, amid a string of car bombings linked to the syndicates which have rocked Israeli cities.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Rhinos on the loose in Tel Aviv after safari park escape

Rhinos escaping from a safari park in Tel Aviv

A few motorist had to beep their HORNS when a pack of rhinos led by a fiesty one called Rihanna decided to go walkies

The moment a young female rhinoceros named Rihanna led two pals on an escape bid from a safari park after spotting the security guard had fallen asleep.

Rhinos escaping from a safari park in Tel Aviv

The footage shows the rhinos escaping from the front entrance of the Ramat Gan Safari Park in Tel Aviv after a security guard nodded off to sleep and failed to notice until too late what was happening. Although another employee of the park gave chase, it was too late to stop the white rhinos from hitting the road.

An enquiry is now on to find out why the gate to their enclosure and the gate to the facility itself had been left open.

Rhinos escaping from a safari park in Tel Aviv

Police who got a call to say that three rhinos were on the loose said that they initially doubted it, but when they realised it was true they had stopped the animals further escape with a roadblock.

They then worked with zoo staff to stop the three rhinos travelling too far, and too drive them back to the safari park.

A police spokesman said: “We located the rhinos in the car park not far from the safari park itself.”

Rhinos escaping from a safari park in Tel Aviv

All three white rhinos including Rihanna as well as the other two females named Keren Peles and Karnivala were returned to the park after their brief adventure without further incident.

Zoo spokeswoman Sagit Horowitz said: “Overall, the rhinos were outside about 10 minutes, in which they were in the parking lot adjacent to the entrance and did not enter the national park.” The security guard that was supposed to stop the rhinos has reportedly been relieved of his duties.

Rhinos escaping from a safari park in Tel Aviv


Israeli spy allegedly infiltrated Hezbollah and passed information on terrorist group to Mossad

Hezbollah commander Imad Mughnieh on Feb. 13, 2008. Israel is also believed to have been involved in the assassination of Mughniyeh, who was killed by a car bomb in Damascus in 2008.

BEIRUT – An agent of Israel’s Mossad spy agency infiltrated the upper echelons of Hezbollah’s security apparatus and leaked information about the Lebanese-Shiite group for several years before being discovered and arrested recently, according to security officials and people in Lebanon familiar with the incident.

The espionage activities of the man, identified as Mohammed Shawraba, would represent one of the most significant security breaches of the highly secretive organization, which is a mortal enemy of Israel and classified as a terrorist organization by the United States.

The incident, which could not be independently verified, has been widely reported in the Lebanese and Arabic media as having helped Israel thwart numerous Hezbollah operations.

Hezbollah refuses to deny or confirm the reports that say Mr. Shawraba had fed the Mossad with intelligence on the Lebanese group’s foreign-operations unit, which he headed since 2008.

“Hezbollah uncovered and arrested Mohammed Shawraba, and they consider his arrest a significant achievement despite the blows that his activities dealt to their operations,” said one official familiar with the incident.

Mr. Shawraba was apprehended with assistance from Iranian intelligence, said the official, who added Hezbollah had become increasingly suspicious of a mole within its highest ranks. Iran, also an enemy of Israel, is the Shiite group’s foremost ally.

Hezbollah and Israel fought a devastating 34-day war in 2006, and they also have spent years countering each other through acts of espionage. That has involved activities such as Israel planting listening devices on Hezbollah’s telecommunication networks, including one that exploded and killed a member of the group in September who was attempting to dismantle it, the group said.

Israel is also believed to have been involved in the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, a senior Hezbollah operative who was killed by a car bomb in Damascus in 2008.

AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty ImagesA wrecked car sits at the site of a car bomb attack in Damascus late Feb.12, 2008 that killed one of Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah’s top commanders, Imad Mughnieh.

The Bulgarian government formally accused Hezbollah of bombing a bus carrying Israeli tourists two years ago in the resort city of Burgas. Hezbollah denies involvement in the attack, which killed six people.

Citing an unnamed security source, the Lebanese English-language Daily Star reported Mr. Shawraba was being tried in a Hezbollah court. He was arrested with four other people who worked for him in the foreign-operations unit, which works against Israeli interests in foreign countries.

Hezbollah had become suspicious of him after five attempted retaliations against Israel over the Mughniyeh killing had failed, the newspaper said.

Lebanon’s Elnashranews website also reported Mr. Shawraba, who is believed to come from a village in southern Lebanon, once even headed the security detail for Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

Hezbollah’s response is basically an admission that this happened

Hilal Khashan, professor of political science at the American University of Beirut, said Hezbollah appears to have been caught off-guard by the flurry of news reports about Mr. Shawraba. Its response indicates it wants to reassure supporters the problem has been resolved, he said.

“Hezbollah’s response to this is very deliberate, and it’s a response that was certainly decided on by the senior leaders, even Hassan Nasrallah himself,” he said.

“The public is now entirely aware of this, and Hezbollah’s response is basically an admission that this happened.”

Mark Heller, a research associate at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies, expressed doubt Hezbollah would retaliate over the issue of an Israeli agent in its organization. The group is too focused on its military operations in Syria, which involve fighting the armed opposition to the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad.

“I doubt that at this point they’re interested in an escalation with Israel,” he said.

Hezbollah has previously said publicly it has been infiltrated by foreign intelligence agencies. In 2011, Mr. Nasrallah announced that two Hezbollah members had confessed to working as agents for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Israel’s legendary Mossad steps out of the shadows in recruitment drive


There was a time when the recruiting methods of the Mossad were as secretive as the spy work of Israel’s world-famous intelligence agency itself, but times have changed.

This week, the legendary agency stepped out from the shadows and launched a glossy, corporate-style promotional video in which agents give their perspective on working at one of the world’s top spy outfits, their motivations for joining, and a flavor of what the challenges are.


It’s a slick presentation, not dissimilar to other on-line spy agency recruitment campaigns of recent years launched by the likes of America’s CIA, Britain’s MI5, or Canada’s CSIS.

“My work isn’t exactly 9 to 5,” a male agent says, while a female agent confesses, “It’s not really child’s play. I never imagined this is what I’d do with my life.”

“My friend’s think I work in marketing,” the man admits. Both state, “I’ve learned things about myself that I never knew.” The video ends with the female agent saying, “This is my world; my calling. Maybe it’s yours as well?”

“My work isn’t exactly 9 to 5.” – Israeli spy in ad for the Mossad

The recruitment video sits on the homepage of the Mossad’s website which is presented in both English and Hebrew.

The ‘Careers’ section leads anyone thinking of applying for consideration as a Mossad agent to fill in an acceptance test, as well as being asked to give a significant amount of information about themselves.

“We must continue recruiting the best minds in the country so that we can deal with the big threats against the State of Israel at this time,” Tamir Pardo, the current director of the Mossad, told the Jerusalem Post.

“The human capital and the quality of the Mossad are the secrets to the organization’s success. The Mossad will continue to operate in every place and time in order to safeguard the State of Israel’s security.”

Traditionally, the Mossad has recruited agents following mandatory Israeli army service, a period during which military recruits have been through a range of experiences that might indicate their suitability for a role in intelligence.

Most 18-year-old Israelis, male and female, are conscripted into the military for three and two year periods respectively. Now though, the Mossad, well aware of the power of social media and video images, has embarked on a new recruitment drive, designed to appeal to a new generation of candidates.

The Mossad was created in 1949, within a year of the establishment of the modern State of Israel. Its activities have become the stuff of legend, pulling off many famous operations in all corners of the globe, and many more that, due to the nature of the work, will never be known. Some of the most notable operations include:

  • 1960 – The Mossad tracked notorious Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichman to Buenos Aires in Argentina. In an audacious operation, he was kidnapped and brought to Israel to stand trial. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity and in 1961 became the first and only person in Israel history on whom the death sentence was carried out.
  • 1965 – Latvian Nazi Herbert Cukurs, known as “The Butcher of Riga” and responsible for a host of massacres during World War II including the infamous 1941 torching of the Gogol Synagogue in Riga, was assassinated by a Mossad hit squad in Montevideo, Uruguay.
  • 1972 – The PLO’s assassination of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics triggered “Wrath of God,” one of the Mossad’s longest-running and storied operations. Led by  legendary agent Mike Harari, who died earlier this week at the age of 87, the Mossad spent two decades hunting down the killers, who died in a variety of different circumstances in operations in London, Paris, Rome, Cyprus, Greece and Lebanon. In one tragic case in Norway in 1973, the Mossad assassinated the wrong man, killing innocent waiter Ahmed Bouchiki, who they had mistakenly thought was leading Black September figure, Ali Hassan Salameh.
  • 1976 – It was the Mossad that provided the intelligence required by an Israel Defense Forces special commando unit to put together the famous raid on Entebbe airport, Uganda, where 106 passengers were being held hostage by PLO hijackers given safe haven by Ugandan President Idi Amin. All but four passengers were freed in an extraordinary operation, but the leader of the raid, Yoni Netanyahu, brother of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was killed.
  • 1997 – An operation in Jordan to poison Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal backfired when the agents involved were caught. In order to secure their release, Israel had to provide an antidote which saved Meshaal’s life.
  • 2004 – Leading Hamas figure Izz Eldine Subhi Sheik Khalil died in Damascus when his car exploded. It has long been assumed Mossad was behind the operation.
  • 2008 – Top Hezbollah leader Imad Fayez Mughniyeh was killed instantly in Beirut when a car he was passing exploded. Once again, suspicion centered on the Mossad.
  • 2010 – Hamas military wing leader Mahmoud al Mabhookh was killed in his hotel room in Dubai. Authorities publicized security camera images of some 26 individuals they said were Mossad agents wanted in connection with the killing. None was ever caught.
  • 2010 – Mossad involvement has long been suspected in the Stuxnet computer worm that struck Iran’s nuclear weapons program, causing massive damage and setting the Islamic republic and sworn enemy of Israel’s nuclear enrichment program back years.

The shadowy world of spying is occupied by agents of virtually every nation state. Last year, U.S. intelligence agencies were deeply embarrassed by revelations they had listened in to the private phone calls of world leaders, many of them close allies. It is assumed they include Israel.

“I think it is almost a universal assumption that everyone tries to spy on everyone,” Mark Heller, of Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies told FoxNews.com at the time. “Since the U.S. – by virtue of its resources, if nothing else – is the most capable, then it is probably best to assume that it does [now] or has done in the past to Israel what it has apparently done to its other friends and allies.”

“It’s almost a given,” Heller added. “The whole story reminds me of the scene from Casablanca when the chief of police is shocked to find out that there is gambling going on in the casino.”

8 Decks with Spectacular Views

<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> The rear façade of a Richard Meier lake house in Harbor Springs, Michigan, is a complex network of redwood decks and cantilevered staircases, all of which provide stunning views of Lake Michigan. Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: © Dean Kaufman 2011 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

The rear façade of a Richard Meier lake house in Harbor Springs, Michigan, is a complex network of redwood decks and cantilevered staircases, all of which provide stunning views of Lake Michigan.

<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> The owner of a hillside home overlooking Australia’s Pittwater Bay takes in a panoramic view of the ocean from his balcony. Photo by: Richard Powers<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

The owner of a hillside home overlooking Australia’s Pittwater Bay takes in a panoramic view of the ocean from his balcony.

The top-floor deck of a six-story townhouse in Tel Aviv features a glistening lap pool and an incredible view of the surrounding city.

<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> The porch of an architect’s Shelter Island cottage was designed for dining, napping, and basking in the expansive views of Long Island Sound. Photo by: Bart Michiels<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

The porch of an architect’s Shelter Island cottage was designed for dining, napping, and basking in the expansive views of Long Island Sound.

<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> A couple’s dream home in northeast Australia features a large deck off the living room that overlooks the hills of Noosa and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Photo by: Richard Powers<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

A couple’s dream home in northeast Australia features a large deck off the living room that overlooks the hills of Noosa and the Pacific Ocean beyond.

<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> The wraparound deck of a secluded home in Malibu offers killer views of the chaparral-filled canyon on which it’s perched. Photo by: J Bennett Fitts<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

The wraparound deck of a secluded home in Malibu offers killer views of the chaparral-filled canyon on which it’s perched.

<br /><br /><br /><br /> A green island getaway 20 miles off the coast of Maine features a modest back porch with a remarkable ocean view. Photo by: Eirik Johnson<br /><br /><br /><br />

A green island getaway 20 miles off the coast of Maine features a modest back porch with a remarkable ocean view.

<br /><br /><br /><br /> The rear deck of a concrete prefab home outside of Zurich seems to float in a leafy canopy and offers an amazing view of the nearby Rhine. Photo by: Hertha Hurnaus<br /><br /><br /><br />

The rear deck of a concrete prefab home outside of Zurich seems to float in a leafy canopy and offers an amazing view of the nearby Rhine.