Palestinian handed 17.5 years for stabbing IDF soldier

21-year-old West Bank native Tariq Yahya expresses remorse for knife attack, declines to disavow nationalist motives

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

Illustrative: A knife wielded by a Palestinian assailant at the scene of a car-ramming attack in northern Jerusalem on Friday, March 6, 2015 (Channel 2 News)
Illustrative: A knife wielded by a Palestinian assailant at the scene of a car-ramming attack in northern Jerusalem on Friday, March 6, 2015 (Channel 2 News)

The Nazareth District Court on Tuesday sentenced a West Bank Palestinian man to 17 and a half years behind bars for stabbing an Israeli soldier in the northern city of Afula last year.

Tariq Abd el-Fattah Yahya, a resident of the Jenin-area village of Arqa, was previously convicted of attempted murder for the October 2015 knife attack that moderately wounded an Israel Defense Forces solider.

According to court documents, 21-year-old Yahya expressed remorse for carrying out the attack during the sentencing, but declined to denounce the nationalist ideology that motivated him.

Yahya was ordered to pay his victim NIS 40,000 ($10,400) in damages.

According to the indictment filed last October, Yahya after his arrest told police he sneaked into Israel from the West Bank and was living in the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm illegally. He also admitted to buying a knife and traveling to Afula looking for Israeli victims after watching a video on social media urging attacks on Jews.

Before he left home, police said Yahya wrote a message to family members on Facebook asking for their forgiveness if he did not return.

The indictment also revealed that Yahya had an accomplice, an Israeli citizen and resident of the Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, who drove him to Afula in exchange for NIS 150 ($40). He was charged with transporting an illegal resident.

After stabbing IDF soldier Dvir Peretz, Yahya was stopped and wrestled to the ground by a passerby. Police were called in to keep angry citizens from beating him as he lay pinned to the ground.

The 20-year-old soldier was evacuated to a local hospital in moderate condition with a single stab wound to the chest, and released the following day.

The October 8 attack — the fourth stabbing of that day following assaults on Israelis in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Kiryat Arba in the West Bank — came at the height of a year-long spate of Palestinian violence and terrorism.

Since last October, 36 Israelis, two Americans and an Eritrean national killed in stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks. According to AFP figures, some 238 Palestinians, a Jordanian and a Sudanese migrant have also been killed, 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.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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