On Tuesday, 30 year old Israeli Haim Pearlman was arrested by the Jerusalem authorities on suspicion of murdering a number of Palestinians, attempted murder and illegal firearm possession. He is suspected of being the “serial stabber” responsible for the deaths of a number of Arabs in the 1990s. Pearlman has a long history of criminality and criminal association. He is a member of Kach which is an extreme far right, racist Israeli movement. It is so extreme that is has been banned by the Knesset for inciting racism and is considered to be a terrorist organisation by America, the EU and even Israel itself. Pearlman has served time in the past following an attack on two Palestinians in a supermarket.
However, what makes Pearlman’s story interesting is that, despite his criminal track record, he is claiming that he is being set up by the Israeli Secret Service, the Shin Bet. Pearlman made some shocking revelations to Israeli Channel 2 recently, including his declaration that Shin Bet tried to recruit him, despite his criminal background, to assassinate Sheikh Raed Saleh, the leader of the Islamic movement in Israel. Pearlman said that Shin Bet first tried to get him to act as an informant and collaborator in return for large sums of money. However, when he had no useful information to give them they turned to him instead and tried to recruit him to assassinate Sheikh Saleh visiting his home to try to persuade him. Pearlman says that he has tapes to verify his claims and that, in what is essentially a pre-emptive strike for fear that he will expose them, Shin Bet is tying to set him up for murders that he did not commit.
Mohamed Zaydan, the head of the Arab Follow Up Committee in Israel, reacted to this story by saying that the fact that this individual met with several senior officials within Shin Bet who incited him to kill Arabs confirms all the speculation surrounding what happened on board the Flotilla and the targeting of Shiekh Raed. There were rumours at the time [of the flotilla attack] that Sheikh Salah had been killed and there was certainly an attempt on his life as the Sheikh confirmed shortly after. The targeting of Sheikh Salah is nothing new. Israel intelligence has used various forms of treachery to kill Palestinians both at home and abroad. A spokesperson for the Islamic movement, Zahi Nagaydat, said that the Islamic movement holds the Israeli establishment responsible for any harm that befalls Sheikh Raed.
This case will certainly be a source of embarrassment for Israel and Shin Bet, not only because it reveals how they try to recruit racists and criminals to assassinate Arabs but also, if Pearlman is telling the truth, how willing they are to frame Israelis as well.