A man associated with the outlawed Kach movement was arrested on Tuesday night by Jerusalem Police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) on suspicion that he stabbed a number of Palestinian men to death in the late 1990s, attempted to murder at least five more Palestinians, and illegally possessed weapons.
The suspect, Haim Pearlman, 29, from Beit Rabban near Yavne, is said to have traveled in far-Right circles and has been described by security services as a member of the Kach movement. He is married and has three children.
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In 1998 and 1999, security services allege, Pearlman went on a stabbing spree, killing three Palestinians in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Mea She’arim and Abu Tor.
He allegedly tried to murder five more Palestinians in the Jerusalem area.
Pearlman denied all the allegations, and said in an interview recorded two days before his arrest and aired on Channel 2 on Wednesday night that he was being framed.
Pearlman’s lawyer, Adi Keidar, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, “In the coming days, we will expose the unacceptable and shameful techniques used by the Shin Bet against my client. My client has denied all wrongdoing.” Keidar added that he has been prevented from meeting with Pearlman for the time being.
“In the condition that I was in, I would have confessed to killing Arlosoroff,” Pearlman said during the Channel 2 interview, in a reference to Socialist Zionist leader Haim Arlosoroff, whose unsolved murder in Tel Aviv in 1933 was blamed on right-wing elements.
“The Shin Bet gave me money to feed them information six months ago,” Pearlman said.
He also accused his purported handlers of encouraging him to commit violent acts, including killing Sheikh Raed Saleh, the head of the Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch, as part of the efforts to frame him.
An associate of Pearlman’s told the Post that the Shin Bet enticed Pearlman with cash payments to become an informer, but then cut links with him after realizing that the information he provided was worthless.
The associate added that audio recordings were made by Pearlman of Shin Bet “He was a right-wing activist 10 years ago, but since then has left. He couldn’t get a teaching permit because of a past arrest during a disturbance related to the disengagement [from Gaza and parts of northern Samaria in 2005],” the associate said.
“He was in financial distress, so the Shin Bet exploited him. They gave him hundreds of shekels for meeting with them, and kept in regular touch with him, asking him to provide them with information,” the associate added.
The associate said that after realizing the information Pearlman was giving was false, undercover agents were sent to Givat Washington to put up posters advertising a job.
When Pearlman contacted the people who advertised the position, he realized they were Shin Bet agents, the associate said.“They crossed the line, and tried to cause him to commit violent acts. These conversations were recorded by him. When the Shin Bet realized they were being recorded, they framed him, out of revenge,” the associate claimed.
The associate claimed to have heard the recordings.
“In one tape, an agent is heard saying, ‘Let’s go to a village in the North... It’s not a problem to take out Salah. You open fire on the vehicle... You have to empty out the cartridge... Or you can plant a bomb,’” he said.
“Why was he arrested now, when the cases are more than 10 years old?” he said. “There is no doubt this is revenge.”
Pearlman appeared at the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, where his custody was extended by a day, despite attempts by the police representative to get it extended by 15 days. His next remand hearing will be held on Thursday at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.
Pearlman was arrested in the past for waving an Israeli flag on the Temple Mount, but was acquitted. He was also arrested for attacking an Arab man during the funeral of Binyamin and Talia Kahane in 2000. Binyamin, the son of Kach founder Rabbi Meir Kahane, and his wife were shot dead in their van by Palestinian terrorists while driving in the West Bank.
The Shin Bet fully lifted a media gag order on the case late Wednesday night and released a statement saying: “Pearlman was arrested on suspicion of carrying out severe offenses, including a series of murders of Arabs and additional terrorist attacks against Arabs. The decision to arrest Pearlman came after months of intelligence efforts in conjunction with the Israel Police and the state prosecution.
The efforts ... included a number of meetings held between Shin Bet members and Pearlman ... and other intelligence-gathering operations aimed at consolidating information on him.”
The Shin Bet rejected claims that Pearlman had been framed.
Shmuel “Zangzi” Meidad, the founder of Honeinu, a human rights organization that is helping to defend Pearlman, commented about the arrest.
“Soon, new information will come to light that will shock Israel in the revelation of how the Shin Bet works,” Meidad said, adding that he was not at liberty to go into specifics. “From my understanding, Pearlman may have been duped into carrying out killings by the Shin Bet.”
Meidad said Pearlman was a normative person whose weaknesses were exploited by the security services.
Gil Shefler contributed to this report.