A Jordanian man previously employed in Eilat was convicted Thursday on terrorism charges over a 2018 assault on two Israeli men in the Red Sea coastal city.
The Beersheba District Court found Taher Halef guilty on two counts of attempted murder and for a “terrorist conspiracy.”
The conviction was handed down as part of a plea deal, as part of which Halef admitted to the crime and will be sentenced to 19 years in prison.
According to the plea arrangement, Halef acknowledged that he used his entry permit to carry out a terror attack in Israel and die as a “martyr.”
Two Israelis who were working as divers at Eilat’s port were seriously wounded when Halef attacked them with a hammer on November 30, 2018. In addition to the injured Israelis, who were taken to the city’s Yoseftal Hospital with head injuries, a second Jordanian worker who tried to restrain the attacker was lightly hurt.
Halef began working in Israel days before the attack, after receiving a daily work permit from the Population and Immigration Authority. He succeeded in passing the screening process despite being flagged as a potential terrorist by the Jordanian manpower agency that first interviewed him.
According to state prosecutors, Halef had been planning to attack Israelis for over a decade. They said he received help from cousins in Jordan on previous occasions when he sought to carry out attacks.
Allegedly, Halef’s first terrorist plot was in 2008, when, after seeing television footage of the first war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Operation Cast Lead, he planned to carry out a shooting attack at the border. The indictment said that Halef’s father foiled his son’s plan by blocking the road while he was already en route to the border, having stolen the father’s gun.
During the summer of 2017, prosecutors claimed, Halef and his cousins resolved to enter Israel through the border fence and carry out a shooting attack. However, after surveying the landscape, they realized their plan was unfeasible.
It was then that he decided to obtain an entry permit to Israel and carry out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem. To that end, he allegedly enlisted the help of his brothers and cousins, who agreed to travel to Israel with him.
On his second day working in Israel, after crossing over from Aqaba, he attacked the two Israeli divers at the port, as well as the second Jordanian worker, who attempted to stop him.