Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of the 'Bat Ayin Underground'

Three settlers sentenced for attempting to bomb Palestinian girls' school ask court to overturn conviction.

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the appeals of three men convicted of attempting to bomb a Palestinian girls' school in East Jerusalem.

Shlomo Dvir, Ofer Gamliel, and Yarden Morag - nicknamed the "Bat Ayin Underground" - appealed to the court to overturn their convictions and punishments. Shlomo Dvir and Ofer Gamliel were sentenced to 15 years, while Yarden Morag was sentenced to a 12-year prison term.

Justices Dorit Beinisch, Aharon Barak, and Eliezer Rivlin rejected the appeal. In her ruling, Benisch wrote "The goal of the accused - which by miracle was not carried out - was to cause deaths of students and innocent bystanders, just because they were Arab. They [the three] did everything they could to carry out their criminal mission."

Beinish wrote that "the attempt to cause the deaths of many people, especially of students who are innocent of any crime, demands a severe punishment."

She also wrote that "the pain that the accused suffered as a result of the deaths to those close to them from terrorist bombings cannot ease even by a bit the severity of the punishment."

The three were said to have parked an explosives-laden baby cart outside the main entrance to the school at 3:30 A.M. on April 29, 2002, and set the timer for 7:25 A.M., just as students would be arriving.

Last week, the court unanimously rejected an appeal by right-wing activist Shachar Dvir-Zeliger, Shlomo's brother, against his conviction on six counts, including membership in a terror group and the illegal possession of arms.

Dvir-Zeliger, of the Adei-Ad outpost near the West Bank city of Ramallah, was convicted two years ago of stealing rifles and explosives from the Israel Defense Forces, of conspiring to carry out terror attacks against Arabs and of illegal possession of arms.

The Jerusalem District Court sentenced Dvir-Zeliger to eight years and an additional two years' suspended sentence.