Palestinian who stabbed officer was freed in 2013 after murdering professor

Muammar Ata Mahmoud was released as part of peace talks; he killed Israel Prize winner Menahem Stern in 1989

The late Professor Menahem Stern (Public Domain/Wikipedia)
The late Professor Menahem Stern (Public Domain/Wikipedia)

The Palestinian who stabbed and lightly wounded an Israeli border policeman in Jerusalem’s Old City Wednesday evening is the convicted killer of an Israel Prize winning professor.

Muammar Ata Mahmoud, 56 of Hebron, was released in 2013 as part of an ultimately unsuccessful round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Ynet news reported.

Mahmoud, along with Salah Khalil Ahmad Ibrahim (also released in 2013) was convicted of murdering Menahem Stern, a history professor at Hebrew University. Stern was stabbed to death while walking to work at the university’s Givat Ram campus on June 22, 1989. In addition, the two murdered a Palestinian suspected of collaborating with Israel, Hassin Zaid.

Stern’s daughter Meira Stern-Glick protested the pair’s release at the time, saying it caused her “great distress” and called their freedom unjust.

“These people are murderers,” she said. “A person who murdered in cold blood should sit for life.”

Mahmoud was overpowered by other Border Police officers after stabbing the officer in the leg outside Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate.

The officer was taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem for treatment.

Chief Superintendent Nisso Guetta, the commander of the officer’s unit, praised the vigilance of the policemen, saying, “We witnessed another terror attack in almost the same place a little more than two months ago. The readiness and alertness of our fighters is the main reason these incidents are ended before the attackers succeed in harming innocents.”

The issue of Palestinian prisoners released in deals then returning to terror activity is a major concern in Israel.

The man allegedly behind a deadly West Bank shooting in June was released in 2011 as part of the exchange for the release from Gaza of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Last month it was reported that six Israelis have been killed in attacks carried out or planned by Palestinians released under the Shalit deal since April 2014.

Some Israeli lawmakers recently sought to prevent such eventualities of prisoner exchanges by instituting the death penalty for convicted terrorists. That effort was shelved in July by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.


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