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Two Arab residents of Jerusalem were under arrest Thursday for allegedly trying to kidnap and murder haredim in the city, police said.
The two suspects were apprehended earlier this month in a joint police-Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) sting operation. A gag order on the case was lifted Thursday afternoon.
According to police, the two men, Ayman Salhab and his cousin Haitham Salhab, both in their early 30s, planned to kidnap and murder haredi residents of Jerusalem and use their bodies as bargaining chips to win the release of Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel.
The suspects, who have criminal records for drug offenses, have confessed to the allegations against them, police said.
The two were recruited to carry out the kidnappings and murders by a Gaza resident who used to live in the Jerusalem area, in exchange for $2,000 each, police said.
Earlier this month, the two suspects allegedly scouted several Jerusalem neighborhoods - including Neveh Ya'akov, Givat Shaul, Har Nof and Beit Hakerem - and offered haredim rides in their search for a victim.
The two men told interrogators they had selected haredim as their targets because "they are known to hitchhike" and "they are certainly Jewish," police said.
After finding their victim, the suspects had planned to beat him and stab him with a screwdriver.
When none of the haredim accepted their offer of a ride, the suspects had planned to force a haredi into their car at gunpoint, police said, but the two were arrested in their east Jerusalem homes before they were able to carry out their plan.
The Jerusalem Magistrates Court remanded the two suspects on Thursday until Sunday, ahead of their scheduled indictment next week for attempted murder. Police plan to ask the court to remand the two men through the duration of the trial.
"We only did it for the money and for our children," Ayman Salhab said during his court appearance. "I am sorry, and we will pay for our mistake."
Asked what he would do if someone tried to kidnap one of his own children, Ayman Salhab said: "I would kill him on the spot."