MK Meir Porush
MK Meir PorushYonatan Sindel/Flash90

Two people have been arrested in connection with an attempt to cut off the beard of MK Meir Porush of the United Torah Judaism party. They are also suspected of having sprayed a noxious substance at the front door of his home, of vandalizing the gravesite of Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman, and of attacking a woman with pepper spray.

The arrests follow an extensive investigation conducted by undercover police detectives from the Jerusalem district, after Jerusalem police chief Commander Doron Turgeman suspected a link between the abovementioned crimes.

A prosecutor’s statement was issued against the first and primary suspect on Sunday, in advance of an indictment; his detention has been extended until Wednesday. This is a man in his forties, a resident of Jerusalem, who is thought to have planned the series of attacks and paid the younger suspect money to carry them out. The second suspect is an 18-year-old resident of Tzfat who is now under house arrest. Investigations are ongoing.

The primary suspect is thought to have been motivated by extremist sentiments including opposition to COVID-19 vaccination and opposition to recruiting of haredi youth into the IDF. The attacks seem to have been designed to prevent haredi leaders from taking a position opposed to that of the suspect.

In a statement, police said: “This is a complicated investigation in which extensive efforts were made and many officers involved, in order to solve the crimes and arrive at the truth. The incidents described are serious indeed, especially as several of them targeted elderly members of the haredi population with the aim of instilling fear in them and causing them actual physical harm. We will continue to take action against all incidents of violence and hooliganism and intend to bring the perpetrators to justice.”