Court Orders Psych Evaluation for Holocaust Survivor Who Murdered Nurse With Firebomb

Holocaust survivor Asher Faraj, 77, to remain in custody for eight more days after admittedly killing Tova Carero

Holocaust survivor Asher Faraj at his remand hearing on Thursday, March 15, 2017.
Moti Milrod

The Tel Aviv District Court ordered psychiatric evaluation on Thursday for the confessed perpetrator of Monday’s firebomb murder of a nurse at a Holon health clinic, and extended his custody for eight more days.

Asher Faraj, a 77-year-old Holocaust survivor from Holon, admitted to throwing a firebomb into the office where nurse Tova Carero was sitting at a Clalit health clinic in the city two days ago. Carero was killed and Israel’s entire public health system shut down for two hours Thursday morning in protest. Faraj told investigators he threw the firebomb because he was upset over the treatment he had received at the clinic.

At the court hearing thursday, the police called to send Faraj to an immediate psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he was fit to stand trial.

Attorney Ofhir Katavi, the public defender representing Faraj, asked that the test not be held at a hospital run by Clalit “due to the emotions.” The judge rejected the request. Clalit is Israel’s largest health maintenance organization.

Judge Ronit Poznanski-Katz sent Faraj for evaluation, ruling, “The suspect took the life of a victim who spent years working at saving lives and giving medical care to a broad population, based on material presented here. This is a tragic case that represents a recurring problem of violence by patients and family members against medical staff.”

Poznanski-Katz noted that Faraj was an elderly man without a criminal record, but said that the evidence indicated that he was an extremely dangerous individual.

After starting the fire at the Clalit clinic, Faraj fled by car. He was detained shortly afterward. Carero burned to death.

That evening, police walked Faraj through a reconstruction of the incident. He told investigators that he intended to torch the clinic but not to hurt Carero. He said that last week Carero had given him a flu shot, which caused him side effects including weakness. Every day afterward, he came to the clinic and complained. The medical staff explained that these were standard side effects, but Faraj did not believe them.

Sources close to the investigation said his family members had previously notified medical and welfare officials of his mental problems, but had said he was not a violent person.