An Arab Israeli man was sentenced Sunday to life in prison for a West Bank terror attack in which he stabbed a rabbi to death.
The Lod District Court convicted Abed al-Karim Assi in July of murdering Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal at the Ariel Junction on February 5, 2018.
Assi was also ordered to pay Ben-Gal’s children NIS 258,000 ($74,000) in compensation.
In the ruling presiding Judge Ruth Lorch noted that Assi “chose the deceased only because of his appearance as a Jew.”
Before the sentencing Assi told prosecutors that he had fully intended to carry out the crime, saying: “You are the terrorists, not us.” He cited incidents of terror attacks carried out by Jews against Arabs.
“Did you want us to sit quietly and watch?” he asked.
Attorney Haim Blecher of the Honenu legal aid organization, who represented the Ben-Gal family, passed a letter to the judges from Ben-Gal’s parents in which they asked that Assi receive the maximum sentence, and that he never be included in any future prisoner exchange deal with Palestinians.
“We ask you to give him the maximum sentence and make him rot in prison until his last day,” they wrote.
According to court papers, Assi, who confessed to the crime, decided to commit a terror attack and kill Jews after he had an argument with an Israel Defense Forces soldier at a junction outside Ariel.
Later that day, Assi purchased two 27-centimeter-long knives at a store in Nablus and returned to the same junction, where he spotted Ben-Gal at a bus stop and recognized him as Jewish by his kippa.
He then closed in on Ben-Gal and stabbed him in his chest and abdomen, continuing to pursue his victim even as the latter attempted to flee. A passing driver noticed what was happening and hit Assi with his car, prompting him to flee the scene.
Medics tried to resuscitate Ben-Gal. He was taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, but succumbed to his wounds.
Israeli security forces arrested Assi on March 18, 2018 in Nablus, where his father lives, after more than a month of searching.
Before the attack he had used his Israeli citizenship to spend time on both sides of the Green Line, including with his mother, who lives in Haifa.