Avigail and Yael Gross, z"l
Avigail and Yael Gross, z"l Courtesy of the Gross family

The Jerusalem Magistrates Court revealed to the press Friday the identity of a man being held on suspicion of being responsible for the tragic poisoning of Avigail and Yael Gross, 2 and 4, in Jerusalem last month. The man: Yossi Barkan, of the small community of Nataf. 

Barkan was arrested Thursday on suspicion of engaging in extermination work once again, despite being ordered not to by the court, according to Walla!. Barkan himself insists that he is not a professional exterminator, but only sets traps to get rid of household pests. 

The Court released Barkan on a 10,000 shekel bail - but, by police request, also added a sentence of 30 days house arrest for returning to work without permission, and released his name to the press for the sake of public awareness. 

Barkan has not been categorically proven to be the exterminator responsible for the deaths, but he is a suspect, according to the daily. Attorney Moshe Shipman says that the damage done to his reputation is irreversible.

"This is a sad and tragic day," the attorney stated. "You have destroyed his world." According to Shipman, "you have damaged the livelihood of a very special man whose sense of duty to his customers made him bend the rules for the sake of his clients. On his final job, he rid a non-profit organization of a mice infestation free of charge." 

"We hope the facts will be clarified soon," he added. 

Last month's tragedy occurred after an exterminator left a highly toxic material, phosphine, in the apartment's enclosed security room, also known as the "Mamad" or bomb shelter.

Apparently, the security room's seal was less effective than the storage requirements for the chemical require, and the poison spread throughout the apartment over several days.

Rescue officials at the scene were shocked to discover that the chemical's toxicity was at the highest levels of the spectrum. The exterminator was arrested and an investigation launched. 

The entire Gross family was poisoned within a few days of the chemical being released. Parents Shimon and Michal only recently finished the shiva traditional Jewish mourning period for their two girls, Yael and Avigail (2 and 4), who were killed in the poisoning; they have also been in the hospital monitoring the recovery of their sons, Michael (7) and Yitzhak (5). 

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