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 as Ethiopian immigrants.

Maharat was driving in a Hyundai sedan on Gabrielov Street in Kiryat Moshe when a bomb tore through the car, killing him and injuring a 50-year-old man riding with him as well. A third man in the car was lightly injured. Police said Sunday that Maharat was known to police, as was the 50-year-old man, but that they were not known to be involved in any sort of criminal activity together.

Earlier on Sunday Police said they were not able 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 just a few years earlier.

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 that the car bomb was a so-called “work accident”, possibly that he had been transporting the bomb when it went off. Police said that 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 been long been a trendy tool of murder in the local underworld here. If Saturday night’s bomb went 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 that 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. The Lavi brothers 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, saying it was part of a smaller, more localized feud between Rehovot criminals which nonetheless included the use of explosives.

Source: The Jerusalem Post


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