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Israel Errs on Identity of Blast Suspect

June 02, 2002|From Times Wire Services

JERUSALEM — A woman arrested on suspicion of complicity in a Palestinian suicide bombing last week was a former Ukrainian prostitute, not a Jewish immigrant to Israel as originally stated, Israel's Shin Bet secret service said Saturday.

It said in a statement issued via the Israeli prime minister's office that the woman, Irena Plitzik, was arrested May 23 with her Palestinian husband and was using the identity card of his cousin's Israeli wife, Marina Pinsky. Both of the men are named Ibrahim Sarachne.

The suspect was thus misidentified Thursday, Shin Bet said, adding that Pinsky--a Russian immigrant--had no connection to the evening attack in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Le Zion.

Israeli television said Pinsky alerted authorities to the mistake after seeing her name in Israeli newspapers Friday.

Dozens of Israeli Arabs have been arrested on suspicion of aiding the 20-month-old Palestinian uprising, but such complicity on the part of Israeli Jews is almost unheard of.

Shin Bet said the woman who was arrested came to Israel from Ukraine several years ago, working as a prostitute and eventually marrying one of her Palestinian clients. She was described as Christian, not Jewish.

The couple were arrested a day after they drove a 17-year-old militant from the Bethlehem area to Rishon Le Zion in central Israel, where he blew himself up, killing two Israelis and wounding 36.

Plitzik told Israeli interrogators that she did not know of the planned bombing in advance, according to previous statements from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office.

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