Alleged Israeli mafia boss murdered amid crime hike
JERUSALEM - Francois Abutbul, alleged to be one of Israel's top organised crime bosses, was gunned down overnight by unknown assailants, Israeli police said on Sunday.
Abutbul "was killed in his car at a service station," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Local media reported that two assailants riding motorbikes, their faces covered by helmets, opened fire on Abutbul at a service station near Netanya, north of Tel Aviv.
They fired at least 10 bullets at the 40-year-old, who was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital shortly afterwards, reports said.
The killing appeared to be a targeted hit, possibly by a rival criminal group.
Abutbul, freed from prison just last year after spending two years behind bars for assaulting his wife, is believed to have succeeded his brother Asi at the head of one of Israel's major criminal gangs in 2009.
He assumed the leadership post when Asi was sentenced to 13 years in jail for his role in leading a "criminal organisation."
Israel has seen competition between rival criminal gangs ramp up in recent years, resulting in increased violence that has prompted police to form a special task force, "Unit 443," to tackle the growing problem.