Palestinian Triple Murderer Gets Three Life Sentences in Israeli Court

Bilal Abu Ghanem boarded Jerusalem bus with accomplice in October, and they shot and stabbed to death three Israeli passengers, wounding seven.

Olivier Fitoussi

The Jerusalem District Court handed down three life sentences plus 60 years Monday to an East Jerusalem man convicted of killing three men in an attack on a Jerusalem bus last year.

Bilal Abu Ghanem, who was also ordered to pay 250,000 shekels ($64,380) to each of the victims’ families, was convicted three months ago of triple homicide, seven attempted murders and aiding and abetting the enemy in wartime.

On October 13, Abu Ghanem and an accomplice, Baha Alian, got on bus No. 78 in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, one of them armed with a gun and the other with a knife. They began to attack the passengers and persisted until they were overpowered by police. Alian was shot dead by the police and Abu Ghanem was severely wounded.

The three men killed in the attack were Alon Govberg, Richard Lakin and Haviv Haim. Seven passengers were injured.

A plea bargain arranged by Abu Ghanem’s lawyer was canceled when Abu Ghanem refused to stand up in court, hear the charges and accept the deal. Judge Yoram Noam rejected the defense’s request to accept Abu Ghanem’s statement if he delivered it while seated.

The judge noted that Abu Ghanem and Alian waited until the bus was full to increase the number of victims, then began to “initiate their plan to execute helpless victims one after the other, shooting them point-blank and stabbing them, and even chocking them.”

Noam ruled that the attack “intended to sow death among as many innocent people as possible, only because they were Jews, is a satanic act, which removes its perpetrators from humanity.”