A “Kafkaesque arrest” or a conspiracy to store an explosive for later use? It remains unclear, but on Wednesday, police brought a Petah Tikva school custodian to the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on suspicion of stashing a bomb inside a middle school for a purpose that remains unclear.
The suspect, Eyal Yunger, 31, from Petah Tikva is being held on charges of manufacture and sale of dangerous drugs, illegal weapons possession, conspiracy, dealing in transfer of dangerous weapon and obstruction of justice. Eli Levy, 31, from Petah Tikva, was also taken into custody, and is being held on a drug charge that police say is unrelated to the bomb.
The case broke on Tuesday night, when police reported finding a bomb at Brenner Middle School on Ein Ganim Street. Detectives tracked down the bombs as part of an undercover operation, preventing a possible tragedy at the school.
Yunger and his attorney, Liran Fridland, told a different story.
Yunger, the janitor for the school’s gymnasium, told police he found the bomb in a closet earlier in the week and called a friend, Alon Hachmon, who works as a crime reporter for The Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew-language sister publication, The Israel Post. Fridland told police that Yunger told Hachmon he thought he found a bomb and to please come and look at it and tell him what to do.
Hachmon told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that Yunger did call him, but he did not tell him what it was about, and certainly not that it involved a bomb.
He added that he was shocked to hear his name in court. “I’m as surprised as you, he called me, but he didn’t say what for. And what does he think, I’m a cop? I’m on the bomb squad?” Hachmon said.
He said he has known Yunger for years, as a man who worked as a custodian at a swimming pool and a number of other places in Petah Tikva, and he never thought for a moment that Yunger was involved in anything criminal.
Police said on Wednesday morning that Yunger was not working for a criminal organization and is not affiliated with any crime family.
Nonetheless, the case is being handled by the police’s Serious and International Crime Unit, which handles organized crime.
Levy’s attorney, Eran Rava, said in court later in the day, “This is almost a Kafkaesque story,” saying that Levy was at his mother’s house, across the street from the school, on Tuesday night. He headed to the school to pick up a basketball that belongs to his son.
As he approached the gate, detectives arrested him.
Police did not describe in court how they are linking Levy and the alleged drug deal – which involved 8.5 grams of hashish – to the bomb or to Yunger.
In the end, Yunger was ordered held in custody until the May 22, and Levy until May 18.
While the details of the case remain unclear, one thing is certain – for a few days this week, a bomb was stashed in a gymnasium at a middle school, at the same time that hundreds of children were attending classes.
“This is a very serious problem and we hope that the police will use its resources to find the person responsible,” an Education Ministry representative told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.