Jerusalem Yeshiva Head Held in Shooting

The head of a Jerusalem yeshiva is suspected of shooting and moderately wounding one of his students early this year. The rabbi was arrested three weeks ago and is expected to be charged today with aggravated assault, illegal possession of a firearm and obstruction of justice.

On January 9, police received a report of a shooting incident in the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Yisrael. Eyewitnesses told police that two young men on a motorbike had shot a yeshiva student before fleeing the scene. The victim also fled, but was located by police later that night in a hospital in northern Israel.

The rabbi was arrested along with an associate, whom police suspect was the motorcycle driver.

Police had interrogated the rabbi shortly after the incident, who was not initially a suspect, due to his connection to the student. At the time, he told police he had been on his way to a Torah study class when the shooting took place.

Police said eyewitnesses have identified the rabbi as the assailant, and that they have evidence that the rabbi called the victim from a payphone shortly before the incident and requested that he meet him at the location where the shooting later occurred.

The rabbi, 47, is himself ba’al teshuva ‏(newly religious‏) and is said to have a criminal past. The small yeshiva he heads is apparently attended largely by individuals with similar histories. The institution is believed to receive significant donations from organized-crime families.

Sources close to the rabbi said he remains in close contact with high-ranking members of Israel’s most prominent crime families. The victim is also reportedly an ex-con who served out a prison sentence for attempted murder and other offenses.