Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Gangland violence in Israel. A mark of progress?


A beeper buzzed on the newsdesk of the Jerusalem bureau with a stark message in Hebrew: “Preliminary report – blast on bus on Namir Road in Tel Aviv”.

The information came from the Zaka emergency services, whose ultra-Orthodox Jewish volunteers were usually the first on the scene of suicide bombings on Israeli commuter buses during a Palestinian uprising that began in 2000. Their job: to collect body parts for burial.

But it’s been nine months since a Palestinian suicide bomber last struck in Israel and four years since a bus was blown up.

Thankfully, Zaka got it wrong.

It was a car that exploded, and the driver killed in the blast was a reputed mafia kingpin, Yaakov (The Don) Alperon, a colourful figure in a signature hat whose family is locked in conflict with a string of rivals. Alperon, who has served several prison terms, had survived a number of attempts on his life.