Terrorists get life sentences for shooting rampage in Tel Aviv’s Sarona market

Court also orders each to pay NIS 2.6m in restitution; separately, Palestinian assailant gets 30 years for Ma’ale Adumim ax attack

Khalid Muhamra, left, Younis Ayash Musa Zayn, center, and Muhammad Muhamra, right, sit behind a glass window during their indictment in a Tel Aviv District Court on July 4, 2016. (Flash90)
Khalid Muhamra, left, Younis Ayash Musa Zayn, center, and Muhammad Muhamra, right, sit behind a glass window during their indictment in a Tel Aviv District Court on July 4, 2016. (Flash90)

A Tel Aviv court on Wednesday sentenced three Palestinians to life in prison for a terror attack in June 2016 at Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market.

The three — Muhammad and Khalid Muhamra of the southern West Bank town of Yatta, who carried out the shooting spree, and their neighbor Younis Ayash Musa Zayn, who drove them to a storage unit where they prepared the attack — were convicted in late October on four counts of murder, 41 counts of attempted murder and conspiracy.

The Tel Aviv District Court handed down four consecutive life sentences and 60 additional years in prison to each man, and ordered each to pay NIS 258,000 per family to the four families of those killed in the attack, NIS 200,000 per family to the four families of those who were seriously wounded, and NIS 20,000 to each of the 37 people who were lightly wounded in the attack — a total of NIS 2.6 million (some $750,000) for each attacker.

On June 8, 2016, at 9:30 p.m., the two Muhamra cousins, dressed in suits and just after ordering their dessert, opened fire on diners at the Max Brenner restaurant in the upscale Sarona compound, killing three people in the hail of bullets — Michael Feige, Ido Ben Ari and Mila Mishayev — and a fourth, Ilana Naveh, who collapsed and died while attempting to flee. Another 41 people were wounded, four of them sustaining serious and permanent physical disability.

The cousins, who fled after the shooting, were found and apprehended in an ensuing police manhunt. Zayn was picked up a short while later for assisting them.

The judges in the case were divided on Zayn’s involvement. The majority opinion of District Court judges Sarah Dotan and Yaron Levy held that Zayn had a key role in carrying out the attack, and so could be held responsible for its results, while the minority view of judge Mordechai Levy held that Zayn should be convicted and punished only as an accessory.

Israeli security forces at the scene of a deadly shooting attack at the Sarona Market shopping center in Tel Aviv, June 8, 2016. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

An investigation by security forces later revealed the attackers had entered Israel illegally through a hole in the West Bank security fence.

The Shin Bet security agency said the cousins were “inspired” by the Islamic State terror group.

In August 2016, the Israel Defense Forces demolished the homes of Muhammad and Khalid Muhamra. The army also sealed off Zayn’s bedroom in his family home in November 2016.

Israeli security forces at the scene where two terrorists opened fire at the Sarona Market shopping center in Tel Aviv, on June 8, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Separately, the Judea Military Court handed down a 30-year prison sentence to Saadi Ali Abu Ahmad for an ax attack against a mall security guard, Tzvi Cohen, in the Ma’ale Adumim settlement on February 26, 2016. The court also ordered Abu Ahmad to pay Cohen NIS 200,000.

Abu Ahmad was convicted on July 2, 2017. According to the indictment, Abu Ahmad, who worked at the Ma’ale Adumim mall, decided on the morning of February 26, 2016, to go to the mall in order to murder Jews with an ax.

Security camera footage showing Palestinian Saadi Ali Abu Ahmad attacking unarmed security guard Tzvi Cohen with an ax, in a mall in the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, February 25, 2016. (YouTube/Alik Maor)

Cohen, an unarmed security guard at the mall, opened the door to his office to Abu Ahmad after recognizing him as an employee. When Cohen’s back was turned, Abu Ahmad leaped at the guard and smashed the ax into his neck. Cohen collapsed on the ground, and Abu Ahmad continued hitting him with the ax while he lay prostrate on the ground. At one point, Abu Ahmad dropped his ax, but then picked it up again and went back to repeatedly slash at Cohen, who lay quivering on the ground.

Unsatisfied with his attack, Abu Ahmad then went in search of a gun to shoot Cohen, but found only the guard’s pepper spray. He sprayed Cohen in the eyes and mouth, hoping to cause pain and even asphyxiation. Before leaving, Abu Ahmad took Cohen’s car keys and removed the battery from Cohen’s cellphone.

Cohen was found by a passerby, who called police. He was taken to hospital in critical condition, and spent six months healing from his wounds. He remains severely disabled.

Abu Ahmad fled the scene, but turned himself in a few days later at the urging of his family. Police officials said at the time that family members may have turned Abu Ahmad in to avert the demolition of their home.

Cohen’s family blasted the military court ruling on Wednesday.

“This is a scandalous decision. He should have gotten a life sentence,” brother Moshe told Channel 10. “My brother is a broken man. He’s been suffering ever since the incident.”

Most Popular
read more: