Eilat Man Charged for 'Revenge' Torching of Arab Property

Self-described divine emissary is suspected of setting fires to harm Arabs 'because of the security situation'

Illustrative photo of a man in detention in Israel.
Olivier Fitoussi

An Eilat man was charged in Lod District Court on Sunday with torching Arab property as an "act of revenge against the security situation that prevails in the country.”

According to the charge sheet, David Scharf, 40, had set fires and planned other arson attempts in various areas to distract the firefighters and prevent them from putting out the fires he ignited in order to harm Arabs.

Scharf is suspected of setting fire two weeks ago to scarves that were on display in a souvenir shop in Jerusalem’s Old City and then fleeing the scene. The next day he apparently called a relative and told him he planned to “burn Arabs.” The relative reported the conversation to police, and Scharf was questioned in Eilat by police and then ordered to stay away from the city for 15 days.

The charge sheet states that Scharf then made his way toward the center of the country and set fire to a field near an army base at Nahal Sorek, northwest of Jerusalem. Afterward he reportedly torched vegetation along the road to Neve Ilan, nearby, and an olive grove near a house in Jerusalem’s Beit Safafa neighborhood.

At the hearing in court, the defense attorney asked that Scharf, who was being held at a facility for detainees with emotional problems, be sent for a psychiatric evaluation. Scharf asked to be moved elsewhere because he said he had been beaten there.

“I believe I am the emissary of the Creator of the world, that there was no damage other than some straw that was burned,” he said at the hearing. “I lovingly admitted to everything, because this is my mission. My mission is to set fire around the Western Wall. I am King David, I returned to religious observance five months ago.”

Court documents show that Scharf was convicted in the past of forgery, theft and assaul, and that he had served time in prison.