Chaim Perlman
Chaim Perlman Moti Kimchi, Haaretz

The Petah Tikva Magistrates Court has rejected the Shin Bet's appeal, and Chaim Perlman will be released to house arrest. 

The original order to send him to five days of house arrest was extended to 15, however, and the judge has also banned Perlman from making any contact with any of the others involved in the case. Perlman's lawyer Adi Keidar of the Honenu legal rights organization said he would appeal the house arrest, as the evidence against him is "weak."

The dramatic decision was made around 10:30 AM, shortly after Perlman's lawyer and supporters were disappointed to learn that the judge assigned to hear the appeal had been abruptly replaced. The new judge, Avraham Tal, had previously ruled that Perlman must be incarcerated without being allowed to meet with his lawyer. This decision was later overturned in the Supreme Court.

The Shabak announced after today's court decision that it still considers Perlman its number-one suspect. Voice of Israel Radio legal commentator Moshe Negbi, who has frequently outraged nationalists with his left-wing views, had sharp words of criticism for the Shabak: "Once the investigation has reached the point where the courts feel he must be released, the Shabak has no right to declare its opinion of the suspect and to say, We still think he's evil! How is the suspect supposed to defend himself against accusations like that?"

Perlman has been in prison under difficult conditions for nearly a month, after police and the Shabak announced that they had "found the murderer" of four Arabs who were stabbed to death in Jerusalem 10 and 12 years ago. Perlman denied the charges against him, and publicized recordings of a Shabak agent attempting to goad him into killing other Arabs.