Tel Aviv Bus Bomber Sentenced to 25 Years

The November 2012 blast during Operation Pillar of Defense wounded 28; Palestinian Mohammed Mafarja pleaded guilty in December to the charges.

The man who planted a bomb on a Tel Aviv bus in 2012 and wounded 28 people was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Monday.

Mohammed Mafarja, 19, a Palestinian who was residing in Israel as part of the family reunification plan, pleaded guilty in December to charges that included attempted murder. He was accused of working on behalf of Hamas.

The bomb was detonated as the bus was passing near the Defense Ministry building in Tel Aviv on November 21, 2012, the last day of Operation Pillar of Defense, an eight-day war between Hamas and Israel.

Mafarja, who worked in the city of Modi'in and has Israeli citizenship, was suspected of planting the bomb on behalf of a terrorist cell. The members of the cell were arrested in Taibeh and in the Modi'in area by a special police unit and additional security forces within hours of the attack, which struck a No. 142 bus on Shaul Hamelech Street in central Tel Aviv.

The central charges were pressed against Mafarja. He was 18 at the time of the indictment.

Mafarja was indicted for a string of offenses, including aiding an enemy during war-time, dozens of counts of attempted murder, causing an explosion, and dozens of counts of causing grievous harm.

The investigation revealed that Mafarja was recruited by the cell's leader Ahmed Moussa, who allegedly orchestrated the attack to avenge the assassination of Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari, and to attempt to halt Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip. They carried out the bombing as a nod to Hamas.

Moussa was suspected of driving Mafarja, preparing the explosive for him, and explaining to him how to detonate it. The two allegedly planned that Mafarja would notify Moussa when he left the bus, so that the explosives could be detonated by cellular phone.

Israeli security forces said shortly after arresting the suspects that operatives linked to Hamas and Islamic Jihad had admitted in their interrogation to preparing the bomb used in the attack, as well as to choosing the target of the attack and purchasing the cell phone used to remotely detonate the device. The Shin Bet said that most of those arrested were from the West Bank village of Beit Lakiya.

Tel Aviv bus bombing - AFP