Tel Aviv bus stabber sentenced to 28 years in jail
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Tel Aviv bus stabber sentenced to 28 years in jail

Hamza Matrouk, 23, injured 11 in January attack; has said he carried it out in retaliation for Gaza conflict

Israeli forensics examine the scene of an attack after a Palestinian man stabbed several people on a Tel Aviv bus on January 21, 2015. (photo credit:AFP/JACK GUEZ)
Israeli forensics examine the scene of an attack after a Palestinian man stabbed several people on a Tel Aviv bus on January 21, 2015. (photo credit:AFP/JACK GUEZ)

A Palestinian resident of Tulkarem who stabbed 11 people on a bus in Tel Aviv in January was sentenced Monday to 28 years in prison.

Judge Yaron Levi, of the Tel Aviv District court, wrote in his verdict that Hamza Matrouk, 23, was unrepentant and showed no empathy for the victims.

Levi noted that he took into account Matrouk’s age, clean police record, immediate confession and the fact that he was acting as a lone wolf and not as part of an organization as other factors in his decision on the verdict.

“In the heart of the defendant, a resident of the Palestinian Authority, lay the intention to carry out an attack on Israeli territory, in order to harm Israelis, under the hope that in the end, he would be killed and receive the status of a shahid [martyr],” wrote Levi in the verdict.

Matrouk stabbed nearly a dozen commuters on a Tel Aviv bus during rush hour in an attack that left three people seriously injured. He was shot after a short chase, during which he continued to stab people on the street, and taken into police custody.

The attack occurred at about 7:30 a.m. on a No. 40 bus heading north through the city from Bat Yam.

Hamza Matrouk (Screen capture: Channel 2)
Hamza Matrouk (Screen capture: Channel 2)

He first stabbed the bus driver, Herzl Biton — who attempted to fight back, including using pepper spray — before attacking others as passengers attempted to escape the scene. Biton was among those seriously injured.

Matrouk was reported to have illegally crossed from the West Bank into Israel several days before the attack, and told interrogators that he carried it out in retaliation for Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza last summer and the winter unrest on the Temple Mount. He also said that he was motivated by watching radical Islamic television programs, and spoke of “reaching paradise.”

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