A Palestinian man accused of murdering an elderly Israeli couple and a foreign national in a string of terror attacks in Jerusalem has fallen out with his public defender, who asked to stop representing him.
The presiding judge at the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday rejected the lawyer’s request to stop representing Wasim a-Sayed. However, the feud led to an absurd situation in which the accused killer interrogated family members of the murdered couple as they took the stand.
A-Sayed addressed Yehuda and Tamar Kaduri’s daughter from behind a partition, because the family had requested to not have to see his face, according to the Kan public broadcaster.
Speaking in Hebrew, he asked the victims’ daughter and son-in-law technical questions about photos taken in the Kaduris’ apartment.
He was indicted in April 2022 for the three murders, along with two more attempted homicides, over a period of three years.
According to the indictment submitted to the court, a-Sayed, 34, from the city of Hebron in the West Bank, joined the Salafia Jihadia jihadist group in 2011 and swore allegiance to Islamic State in 2014.
After his release from a Palestinian prison in January 2019, he allegedly decided to carry out attacks against Jews in Jerusalem.
Shortly afterward, according to law enforcement officials, he stabbed the Kaduris to death in their apartment in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood of the capital – a case that police struggled for years to crack.
The investigation also found that a-Sayed was responsible for the attempted murder of teenager Hadar Bezalel days before murdering the couple.
The indictment said a-Sayed had been arrested and placed in Israeli administrative detention, without trial, for around two years at some point following those crimes due to his affiliation with Islamic State — though he was not suspected at the time of the murders.
He was released in March 2022, it said, and within days allegedly committed his next murder after he crossed into Israel illegally and looked for a target in Armon Hanatziv again.
He eventually randomly entered an apartment building and the unlocked home of two sleeping foreign workers. Believing them to be Jews, he stabbed the men in their sleep, killing Ivan Tarnovski and critically injuring his roommate.
A-Sayed was arrested hours later while trying to cross the security fence near Jerusalem again. The knife he was carrying, and his history of administrative detention, led him to be transferred to the custody of the Shin Bet for further questioning.
At the time of a-Sayed’s arrest, police were not aware that he was responsible for any of the murders.
“I decided that I would murder Jews but I wouldn’t tell anyone about it. It would only be between myself and my God. I decided that the Islamic State is my path. I looked for Jewish victims. I wanted to murder a man or a woman, but no children,” a-Sayed told his interrogators, according to Channel 13.