AFRICANGLOBE – An Ethiopian-Israeli rapper who was featured in a 2010 documentary was killed Saturday night in an underworld car bomb in Rehovot’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood.
Yisrael Maharat, stage name “WM,” was featured in the movie Schorim (Blacks) along with friends Meir Saalo (“Diablo D”) and Danny Kabada (“Dr. George”), who made up the rap group KMS. The movie depicts their day-to-day life in the predominantly Ethiopian-Israeli neighborhood of Kiryat Moshe, one of the most impoverished areas in Israel. In the film, they rap about racism, poverty and their problems integrating into Israeli society.
Maharat was driving in a Hyundai sedan on Gabrielov Street when a bomb tore through the car, killing him and injuring a 50-year-old man riding with him. A third man in the car, in his 20s, was lightly injured.
Police said Sunday Maharat was known to police, as was the 50-year-old, but that they were not known to be involved in any sort of criminal activity.
On Sunday morning, Police were unable to confirm that Maharat was a musician or performer of any sort, with one spokesperson for the Central District saying “we know him, but not because of stuff like that.”
On Sunday night, however, director Moran Ifergen confirmed to Channel 2 that Maharat was one of the young men featured in her film.
Due to the fact that Maharat was not a high-level organized crime figure or a big-time target of police investigators, there has been speculation the car bomb was a so-called “work accident,” possibly that he had been transporting the bomb when it went off. Police said they have not ruled definitively if that was or was not the case.
In the past couple of years, car bombs have been used against minor criminal figures, owing to the easy availability of explosives in Israel, which have long been a trendy tool of murder in the local underworld here.
If Saturday night’s bomb is shown to have gone off on the floorboard of the car and was not stuck to the undercarriage, it could indicate that it was an accident, however.
Central District police said the killing is believed to be linked to a local feud between criminal gangs in Kiryat Moshe and not part of a wider mob war involving major criminal organizations or bigger police targets.
Rehovot has seen a large amount of deadly underworld violence in recent years and is home to a number of organized crime figures, most prominently the Lavi brothers, Omer and Amos, whose organization is said to be the most powerful in the city and the surrounding area. Their gang is closely-allied to Shalom Domrani’s Ashkelon and Moshe Otzem-based organization, and feuding between them and their rivals has played out on the streets of Rehovot in the past, including in Kiryat Moshe.
Police said Sunday they do not believe that was the case with Maharat’s murder, claiming it was part of a smaller, more localized feud between Rehovot criminals which, nonetheless, included the use of explosives.
By: Ben Hartman