Palestinian Gets Life in Prison for 2020 Stabbing Attack in Tel Aviv Suburb

Nablus area resident who worked in Petah Tikva was convicted last year of murdering Rabbi Shay Ohayon, an attack he told investigators was 'for the sake of Palestine'

Ran Shimoni
Ran Shimoni
Khalil Dweikat, right, during an online court hearing in the central Israeli city of Lod, in 2020.
Khalil Dweikat, right, during an online court hearing in the central Israeli city of Lod, in 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod
Ran Shimoni
Ran Shimoni

Israel sentenced a Palestinian man on Sunday to life in prison for a fatal stabbing attack in the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikva in 2020. The Central District Court also ordered Khalil Dweikat to pay 258,000 shekels ($79,000) in compensation to Rabbi Shay Ohayon's family.

"It is almost impossible to describe in words the consequences of the defendant's actions and their implications for the family of the deceased, the widow, the four orphans, his mother, his brothers and sisters," the jury, led by Judge Deborah Atar, ruled. "Out of a terrorist motive, he took the life of the deceased but also changed the lives of all his relatives forever," she added.

Dweikat, 47, was convicted last year of murder under aggravated circumstances in a plea bargain. He stabbed Rabbi Ohayon to death in a premeditated act, which he told investigators was "for the sake of Palestine, the Palestinian people, the al-Aqsa Mosque and Allah," according to court documents.

The victim, Rabbi Shay Ohayon.Credit: Courtesy of the family

The prosecution said that the verdict "sends a message to all those who choose the path of terrorism, that the court will not show mercy on them."

Dweikat, from the village of Rujeib near Nablus, worked in Israel as a construction worker. According to the indictment he was convicted of, Dweikat took a knife from the kitchen at the construction site he worked at and hid it in his pocket, before heading out from the site in search of a victim. When he saw Ohayon, Dweikat "pulled out the knife from his pocket and stabbed the deceased three times, striking deeply.”

Prosecutors argued that since fleeing the scene and until his arrest shortly after, Dweikat was "considering the possibility of similarly stabbing some more Israeli Jews.” The prosecution also told the court that "throughout his interrogation, despite being asked explicitly, he did not express any empathy, remorse or regret about his victim or the victim’s family.”

Following the attack, Dweikat's family said he had been suffering from depression for four years and had been in treatment.

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