Alleged mob boss Francois Abutbul was gunned down overnight Saturday at a gas station near his hometown of Netanya. His bodyguard, who was sitting in the car, was wounded in the alleged assassination. The police Serious and International Crimes Unit is trying to apprehend those responsible for the hit, while at the same time working to quell a potential rise in mob violence following Abutbul's slaying.
According to police, at 1 a.m. Sunday, two men on a motorcycle pulled up to a car at a service station at the Havatzelet intersection, a few miles north of Netanya. The men pulled out guns, opened fire at Abutbul's car from close range, and sped off. The passengers in the car were quickly identified as alleged crime family head Francois Abutbul and his bodyguard. The Magen David Adom ambulance service and police arrived on the scene and tried to resuscitate Abutbul. He was rushed to the Laniado hospital, but succumbed to his wounds shortly afterward and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Police set up roadblocks for 20 miles throughout the coastal highway in an attempt to catch the assailants, but the suspects' identities have yet to be announced and no arrests have been made.
Israel has been witnessing an increasingly violent and unrestrained feud between alleged members of organized crime over the past decade. The four main families -- Abutbul, Abergil, Alperon, and Rosenstein -- have been vying for control over the drug trade, extortion rackets, and general dominion over Tel Aviv. With three of the current four suspected mob bosses behind bars, a newer and significantly more violent generation is rising to power. The increasingly brazen attacks between the families have enacted a toll on the Israeli public, who all too often become collateral damage to drive-by shooting and explosives intended for mobsters.
Abutbul was no stranger to assassination attempts, and police have long warned him about potential plots against his life. His father Felix was murdered outside a casino in Prague. Brother Asi Abutbul is currently serving a 13-year sentence for running a criminal organization, extortion, and money laundering.
Abutbul took leadership of the family business in 2002, after his father Felix's murder. He was released from prison last December after serving a 22-month sentence for assaulting his wife.