Israel jails teen bomber Mohammed Mafarja for 25 years

Monday, March 10, 2014

A court in Israel today jailed Muhammad Abed al-Jaffer Nasser Mafarja, 19, for 25 years after he bombed a bus in Tel Aviv in 2012.

Two people received significant injuries in the explosion, which also wounded eight others and sent fourteen victims into shock. Mafarja was under 18 at the time of the attack. He placed the device on the bus after rejecting several others he rode on as insufficiently crowded, according to the prosecution. He then left the bus and phoned a co-conspirator, who detonated it remotely.

The remains of a bombed orphanage and mosque in Gaza, during hostilities in 2009.
Image: ISM Palestine.

Mafarja was convicted on his own plea last December in a deal which spared him a possible life sentence by dropping a charge of aiding an enemy at a time of war. The bombing was during a brief war between Israel and Gaza and was designed to convince the Israel Defence Forces to withdraw. Later that day an unrelated ceasefire was brokered by Egypt.

The sentence was the highest allowed by the deal. Laviv Habib, representing Mafarja, cited the defendant's young age, and his guilty pleas, in mitigation. He also said the device was a "weak bomb" not designed to kill but acknowledged his client's actions were "not simple" and Mafarja understood fatalities were possible.

Mafarja admitted offences of causing an explosion, conducting an act with intent to aid the enemy, attempted murder, and causing serious bodily harm. Of Palestinian origin, he gained Israeli residency as part of a family reunion programme. After the bombing he returned to his job at a McDonald's in Azrieli Mall, Modi’in after catching a train.

Other alleged members of Mafarja's cell, which was based in the Beit Liqya and Ramallah areas, have been indicted. Prosecutors claim political assassinations and suicide attacks were planned. Palestinian Ahmed Moussa, a West Bank resident, is presently on trial over the bus bombing; he is accused of triggering the device. Mohammed Assi was shot dead by Israeli authorities during an attempted arrest. A fourth suspect, Ahmad Salah Ahmad Musa, 25 and of Beit Likya, was indicted in January.