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Accomplice in 2015 double stabbing murder handed 35-year sentence

Palestinian college student from East Jerusalem jailed for aiding terrorist carry out attack that killed Nehemia Lavi, Aharon Banita

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Israeli police outside the scene where a stabbing attack took place in the Old City of Jerusalem on October 3, 2015.  (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli police outside the scene where a stabbing attack took place in the Old City of Jerusalem on October 3, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

An East Jerusalem Palestinian college student convicted of aiding a Palestinian teenager who stabbed two Israelis to death in Jerusalem last year was sentenced Wednesday to 35 years in prison.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court also ordered Abed al-Aziz Marei, 22, to pay the widows of victims Nehemia Lavi and Aharon Banita NIS 258,000 ($67,000) each in compensation for his role in the deadly terror attack.

According to the indictment, Marei purchased the knife used by Muhannad Halabi in his October 2015 stabbing spree.

The court earlier this year convicted Marei on two counts of accessory to murder, attempted murder, illegally entering Israel and possession of a knife.

Court documents said the sentencing was part of a plea agreement reached with state prosecutors.

The victims of a fatal stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Saturday October 3, 2015: Nehemia Lavi, 41 (left) from Jerusalem, and Aharon Banita, 22 (right) from Beitar Illit. (Courtesy)
The victims of a fatal stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Saturday October 3, 2015: Nehemia Lavi, 41 (left) from Jerusalem, and Aharon Banita, 22 (right) from Beitar Illit. (Courtesy)

 

 

Lavi and Banita were among the first Israelis killed in the past year’s surge of Palestinian stabbing, car-ramming, and shooting attacks against civilians and security forces.

Halabi, a 19-year-old law student from Ramallah, was shot dead by Israeli Border Police officers after fatally stabbing the two men near Lion’s Gate in the Old City.

Banita’s wife and the couple’s two-year-old baby were also wounded in the attack.

Ahead of the stabbing, Halabi had expressed outrage by what he perceived to be ill-treatment of Palestinian activists by Israeli authorities at the Temple Mount holy site.

“This is completely unreasonable. Anger, anger and more anger. Wake up from your slumber and save al-Aqsa. Let the revolution erupt,” he posted on Facebook a day before the attack.

Muhannad Shafeq Halabi, 19, who killed two Israelis on October 3, 2015 in a terror attack in Jerusalem's Old City. (Israel Police)
Muhannad Shafeq Halabi, 19, who killed two Israelis on October 3, 2015 in a terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City. (Israel Police)

Palestinian Islamic Jihad at the time claimed responsibility for the stabbing.

In January, Halabi’s family’s home in the Ramallah-area town of el Bireh was demolished by the IDF, in keeping with Israel’s controversial policy of destroying homes of convicted Palestinian terrorists.

In the wake of the attack, Halabi rose to fame in Palestinian society for his actions, especially in his hometown of Ramallah.

Within weeks, local fundraising efforts in the West Bank raised millions of shekels in donations to rebuild the family’s home.

October 2015 marked the start of several months of near-daily Palestinian terrorism and violence during which 36 Israelis, two Americans and an Eritrean national killed in almost daily stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks.

According to AFP figures, at least 238 Palestinians, a Jordanian and a Sudanese migrant have also been killed during that time, most of them in the course of carrying out attacks, Israel says, and many of the others in clashes with troops in the West Bank and at the Gaza border, as well as in Israeli airstrikes in the Strip.

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