An elderly Holocaust survivor who burned a nurse to death at a Holon clinic on Tuesday was remanded in custody pending the results of a psychiatric evaluation.
Police on Wednesday named the suspect as 77-year-old Holon resident Asher Faraj.
The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court ordered that Faraj remain behind bars for eight days, and ordered that he undergo a psychiatric evaluation at the request of his attorneys.
At the hearing, his attorneys told the court that he suffers from an unspecified mental illness, and his family had previously sought psychiatric care.
Faraj on Tuesday doused his local HMO clinic in Holon with flammable liquid and set it alight, killing nurse Tova Kararo. The 55-year-old career nurse was declared dead at the scene by emergency workers.
Faraj told police he didn’t intend to harm anyone, but merely to cause damage to property at the clinic.
But according to reports, Faraj became angry after the flu shot he received from Kararo last week made him feel weak and unwell. Faraj told Channel 2 news he believed he might have been poisoned.
Staff members said Faraj had returned to the clinic every day since his inoculation to angrily confront staff, and refused to believe them when they explained he was experiencing routine side effects of the vaccine.
Faraj fled the scene in his car, but was caught by police at the city’s exit after a chase.
Police said that in the hours immediately following the incident, Faraj was unable to explain what he had done.
Later, during questioning, he reportedly told investigators, “I didn’t want to harm anyone — only to throw a burning bottle.”
The incident prompted much of Israel’s health care, education and social work systems on Wednesday morning to shut down for two hours in protest of recent acts of violence directed at staff.
Health care officials said violence against doctors and others by angry patients and family members is a chronic issue in Israel.
According to official government figures, there were 3,000 reported cases of violence or abuse against health personnel in hospitals, clinics and emergency services between 2014 and 2016.
Approximately 75 percent of those attacks were verbal abuse. One-quarter of the attacks were physical assaults against medical staff or their security. Three-quarters of the attacks took place in hospitals, especially in emergency rooms.
The Knesset held an emergency session on workplace violence on Wednesday morning, while medical staff in hospitals and clinics throughout the country held vigils for Kararo.
Family members eulogized Kararo as “the angel of the family.” In a letter, they said, “We lost a mother, a grandmother, an aunt, a friend, a loving wife.”
“She always loved everyone and looked after everyone.”
As a nurse, she had treated thousands of sick people over more than 30 years, they said. “We are all in pain over her untimely death.”
Kararo leaves behind a husband, two daughters and a grandchild.