Palestinian convicted of double stabbing murder in Tel Aviv
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Palestinian convicted of double stabbing murder in Tel Aviv

Altering not guilty plea, Raed Masalmeh admits to killing 2 Israelis in an office building synagogue in November

Raed Masalmeh, 36, at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on December 2, 2015 (Flash90)
Raed Masalmeh, 36, at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on December 2, 2015 (Flash90)

A Palestinian man who stabbed two Israelis to death in Tel Aviv last year was convicted by the Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday on two counts of murder and three of attempted murder after confessing to the charges.

Raed Masalmeh, 36, a father of five from the Hebron-area town of Dura in the West Bank, previously pleaded not guilty to murdering Reuven Aviram and Aharon Yesiav in a Tel Aviv office building synagogue on November 19, 2015.

The prosecution is seeking two life terms for Masalmeh.

Masalmeh had told investigators he was driven to carry out the attack for nationalistic reasons and said he wanted to die as a martyr. During a December court hearing in which he reenacted his crime, he expressed regret for his actions and cried.

Reuven Aviram Courtesy)
Reuven Aviram (Courtesy)

At an earlier hearing, state prosecutors rejected Masalmeh’s request to have the charges downgraded to manslaughter, telling the judge that “multiple eyewitness accounts and the defendant’s previous testimony prove his intention to murder.”

Masalmeh declined to undergo a psychological examination.

According to the indictment, Masalmeh stabbed several men gathered for mincha, the Jewish afternoon prayer service, in the Panorama office building.

Members of the independent emergency service ZAKA cleaning blood at the scene of a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv on November 19, 2015. (Judah Ari Gross/ Times of Israel)
Members of the independent emergency service ZAKA cleaning blood at the scene of a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv on November 19, 2015. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

After stabbing two men outside a makeshift prayer room, other worshipers struggled with Masalmeh for a few minutes as he tried to force his way inside the room.

He eventually abandoned his efforts and left, stabbing a third victim he encountered outside before he was overpowered and subdued by passersby.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by his family to halt the upcoming demolition of their home over his actions. The house was demolished in February.

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