JERUSALEM -- The extradition of a suspected Israeli mob boss to face drug charges in Miami and New York is drawing new attention to Israel's increasingly brazen underworld, where gangsters have bombed busy streets and fired antitank missiles.
Israel's mob turf is so dangerous that the State Department has issued a travel advisory warning Americans of the dangers of the infighting.
One top gangster, Zeev Rosenstein, was extradited to the United States yesterday for involvement in a drug ring that allegedly distributed more than 1 million ecstasy pills in Miami and New York. He is expected to be arraigned today in federal court in Miami.
US prosecutors have called Rosenstein one of the world's most wanted drug traffickers, and he's long been called number one on Israel's most-wanted list.
The best known of Israel's underworld kingpins, Rosenstein has eluded convictions except for a single stretch in prison.
Showing footage of Rosenstein boarding an El Al Israel Airlines plane early yesterday, Channel 10 TV called the extradition ''the end of an era of Israeli crime" and ''the final chapter in a 20-year cat-and-mouse game between Rosenstein and Israeli police."
Rosenstein, 51, has survived at least seven assassination attempts. Bystanders were not so lucky. In December 2003, rivals set off a bomb on a Tel Aviv street, aiming for Rosenstein. He escaped with scratches, but three passersby were killed and 18 were wounded.
Accustomed to violence with its Palestinian neighbors, Israelis had traditionally felt relatively safe from violent crime. But in recent years, the mob wars also have people fearing for their lives.
Israeli Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi compared the mob families to Palestinian militant groups that have killed hundreds of Israelis in shooting and bombing attacks in recent years.
''The criminal organizations' activities have escalated and certainly undermine the public's feeling of security," Karadi wrote last year. ''Our approach to these organizations needs to be exactly like our approach to terror groups."
A travel advisory issued by the State Department last week cited an October 2005 bombing at a Tel Aviv apartment building that killed three people and wounded five. ''Such incidents in the past have involved the use of bombs, grenades, antitank missiles, and small arms fire," the statement said.
Arieh Amit, a former top police commander and currently an international security consultant, said violent crime in Israel is at its most dangerous point.