TEL AVIV (Jan. 3)
A 44-year-old Jewish resident of Rishon le-Zion has been arrested on suspicion of joining a Palestine Liberation Organization faction and receiving $33,000 to assassinate former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and former Housing Minister Ariel Sharon.
Rafael Avraham was arrested Dec. 25 and remanded in custody for 15 days. But news of his apprehension was not reported by the police until late last week.
A statement issued by the police said that the General Security Service, or Shin Bet, and the police criminal investigation division arrested Avraham at Ben-Gurion Airport on his return from a visit to Europe.
Avraham reportedly admitted during interrogation that he was recruited in Europe some months ago by senior leaders of the PLO’s mainstream Al Fatah faction.
Jibril Rajub, one of PLO leader Yasir Arafat’s senior aides, is reported to have been one of Avraham’s recruiters. He was reportedly given $33,000 to buy a weapon with which to carry out the assassinations.
Avraham stressed that he accepted the money but did not carry out any of the activities included in his instructions. Avraham’s parents, who came to Israel some years ago from their native India, have refused to believe the reports.
His mother told Israel Radio that her son is incapable of carrying out such activities. She said he has a vivid imagination and requires psychiatric treatment.
Police described Avraham as a known felon with a criminal record in Israel, a petty swindler who has also served a five-year prison term in Europe for drug trafficking.
The police said Avraham was recruited by Fatah two years ago in a Western European country, where he allegedly represented himself as a senior officer of the Israel Defense Force with wide knowledge of army practices.
In fact, Avraham never served in the Israeli army, having been rejected on mental grounds.
After his recruitment in Europe, he had flown to Tunis, where he was given the money and allegedly received his operational instructions from other senior Fatah officials.