A right-wing Israeli extremist was arrested this week on suspicion of fatally stabbing two Palestinians 12 years ago, police said after a gag order was lifted yesterday.
Police said Chaim Pearlman of Givat Washington, near Yavneh, was also responsible for a string of attacks on other Palestinian victims.
Pearlman is a well known figure on the far right. At the end of the 1990s he studied at a yeshiva identified with Rabbi Meir Kahane's doctrines, and he was a member of the outlawed extremist group Kach.
Pearlman was arrested a few months ago for hanging wanted posters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
After Pearlman was arrested Tuesday night, the head of the team of Shin Bet security service investigators, identified only as Adam, banned him from meeting with his lawyer for three days. Such a step is taken only in extraordinary circumstances, when the Shin Bet fears that a suspect's meeting with a lawyer might obstruct the investigation.
Pearlman's supporters, including right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir and the members of Honenu, which helps pay the legal costs for Israelis prosecuted over confrontations with Arabs, were present in the courtroom yesterday.
"The Israeli public is about to witness one of the most embarrassing affairs, which exposes the methods used by security services who employed improper means to get the suspect to link himself to acts to which he has no connection," said Pearlman's lawyer, Adi Keidar of Honenu.
Security sources said Pearlman had been in contact with the Shin Bet for several months in 2002, apparently indicating that Pearlman had been working for the Shin Bet at one point.
Channel 1 reported yesterday that it was Pearlman who had cut ties with the Shin Bet after a few months.
The sources said that at the time the Shin Bet was in contact with him, Pearlman was not a suspect in the murders and was not involved in illegal activities. They said the investigation against Pearlman was launched a few months ago, after investigators began to suspect him of involvement in attacks on Arabs.
The investigation was conducted jointly with the police and closely overseen by the State Prosecutor's Office.
The sources said that at no time was an attempt made to induce Pearlman to commit a crime, and that any relationship Shin Bet agents had with him was for the purpose of gathering evidence against him.
Sources in the security establishment noted that it is very difficult to collect evidence against Jewish terror suspects and that a number of probes of this type had reached a dead end before they could be prosecuted.
The Shin Bet is planning to ask for a 15-day extension of Pearlman's remand today. The security service objected to the judge's decision to move the remand hearing to Jerusalem, and the Petah Tikva District Court is to discuss the venue today. Police investigators yesterday asked the Petah Tikva court yesterday for the remand extension and presented the judge with classified materials behind closed doors. The Shin Bet reportedly considers the Petah Tikva court more amenable to it.
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