The Supreme Court on Wednesday doubled the sentence for Israel Police officer Shahar Mizrahi, who was convicted of shooting and killing an Israeli Arab, after the latter was suspected of breaking into a vehicle and fleeing the scene.

Mizrahi was sentenced last year to 15 months in prison for shooting Mahmoud Ganaim, 24, during a 2006 raid on car thieves in Pardes Hannah. Police had claimed they shot Ganaim in self-defense after he tried to run over one of the officers. The court ruling doubles his term to 30 months.

Police said that one of the officers approached the suspects and identified himself as a policeman. They said Ganaim began cursing the officer in Arabic, threatening to kill him, and then proceeded to in the car. Police added that officer then pulled his weapon and instructed Ganaim to get out of the car, but that he began driving toward him instead.

Mizrahi had claimed he felt his life was in danger, and that he opened fire in self-defense.

However, the victim's cousin, Waji Ghanaim, who arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting, said that the car was parked on the side of the road at the time of the shooting.

In his appeal to the Supreme Court, Mizrahi said that the shooting was intentional, however, while he claimed his life was not in danger, he insisted he acted out of self-defense.

The Petah Tikva District Court had rejected Mizrahi's account that Ganaim had intended to run him over and the Supreme Court upheld the lower court's decision.

"This is a difficult day for the family and the police," said Major General Shimon Cohen, who heads the police's northern district. "The district command and its officers will continue to accompany and support the officer's family in the future as we are doing today."

Meanwhile, Jaffar Farakh, director general of Musawa Center for Arab Rights in Israel welcomed the decision and said that Mizrahi should have been relieved of his duties the day of the incident.

Farakh said the center has been following 45 similar cases, in which Israeli Arabs have been killed by police or in racist incidents, within the past ten years.

Ganaim's family said it plans to sue for damages to cover the suffering caused to them by the police.