The Jerusalem District Court on Monday convicted a Palestinian man for the murder of a British exchange student in an attack on Jerusalem’s light rail in April 2017.
Jamil Tamimi stabbed to death 21-year-old Hannah Bladon, who was in Israel as part of a study abroad program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
According to the plea bargain, Tamimi will serve 18 years in prison, instead of a life sentence, and admit to his guilt while being exempted from paying Bladon’s family financial compensation, the Kan public broadcaster reported.
The family was said to have expressed outrage at the arrangement with Tamimi.
Prosecuting attorney Sagiv Ozeri told Kan that Bladon was not killed in a terror attack and that medical experts said he was mentally ill.
“This is a shocking murder, without any nationalist element, carried out by a mentally ill person,” Ozeri said.
“We know that no punishment will give succor to or heal a suffering family,” said Ozeri. “Accordingly, in view of the severity of the offense, and after the family members did not object to it, the prosecution proposed 18 years in prison, which would ensure that the defendant spends all, if not the majority of the remainder of his life, behind bars.”
David Barhoum, who represented Tamimi on behalf of the Public Defender’s Office, told Kan that his client was “a person who has been dealing with mental health problems for many years and is familiar with the mental health system.”
According to the indictment, the 57-year-old Tamimi, who has a history of mental problems and had previously attempted suicide, set out on the morning of April 14, 2017, from a hostel in the northern Arab Israeli village of Kaukab Abu al-Hija for Jerusalem, where he purchased a knife.
Tamimi, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amoud, called his sons that day and sought to visit them at the family’s home, but was rebuffed and told that the family wanted no contact with him, in part because he had been convicted of sexually abusing his daughter.
At that point, he was said to have decided to carry out a stabbing attack.
After boarding the light rail, Tamimi spotted Bladon, whom he chose as his victim because she appeared to be an easy target, according to the indictment.
When her back was turned, Tamimi leaped at her and stabbed her seven times. Bladon managed to break free from her assailant, but collapsed on the floor of the light rail car.
Within seconds, Tamimi was wrestled to the ground by an off-duty police officer and another passenger aboard the train.
Despite attempts to save her, Bladon died from her wounds an hour later at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus.
The indictment against Tamimi came after he was found fit to stand trial by a psychiatrist at the Jerusalem district of the state prosecution. Tamimi had checked himself out of the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center the day before the attack.
Following the attack, Tamimi told investigators that he attacked Bladon because he wanted to die and hoped the soldier who was standing next to her on the train would kill him, Channel 2 news reported, describing the killing as “an attempted suicide attack.”
Israeli TV reported that Bladon was standing by the exit doors of the train, near Tamimi, because she had given up her seat to a woman who was holding a baby.
In a statement after the attack, her family in the UK said Bladon “was the most caring, sensitive and compassionate daughter you could ever wish for.”
Bladon had been studying religion, theology and archaeology at the University of Birmingham since 2015. As part of her studies she began a program at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University in January, which she was set to complete in September.
Her family said she was on her way back from an archaeological dig when she was killed.