JERUSALEM (Dec. 30)
Premier Yitzhak Rabin has decided to become personally involved in efforts to eliminate the protection racket that is preying on merchants in Israel’s large cities. Rabin revealed his intention at yesterday’s Cabinet session after Welfare Minister Zevulun Hammer said the phenomenon is growing and needs increasing police resources to curb it.
Police Minister Shlomo Hillel, who last week said the police could not control the racket because the victims were afraid to talk, told the Cabinet that the police are trying to eliminate the racket. The protection racket has been receiving more public attention with the increasing violent incidents that have occurred. The existence of an extensive network of extortionists in Haifa came to light recently after an incidence of violence during which a hand grenade was tossed into a local vegetable market.