Israeli police officers carry the coffin, draped in the Israeli flag, of slain Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi.
(photo credit: GALI TIBBON / AFP)
The Judea Military Court sentenced Ziad Awad to two life terms on Monday for the 2014 Passover Eve murder of top police intelligence official Baruch Mizrahi.
Awad shot and killed Mizrahi and wounded two children on April 14, 2014, near the Tarkumiya checkpoint in the West Bank. He was previously convicted as a Hamas terrorist and sentenced to life in prison in 1993 for killing Palestinians whom he accused of collaborating with Israel, only to be released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal.
Mizrahi’s high rank and that Awad was released in the deal swung Israeli opinion decisively against prisoner exchanges and spurred a wave of new legislation by Avigdor Liberman and Ayelet Shaked to reduce the government’s ability to conclude such deals.
At the start of July 2014, Awad’s residence became the first West Bank Palestinian home to be demolished by Israel since 2005, when it announced a moratorium on the punitive practice against families of terrorists. That turning point led to Israel’s much wider use of house demolitions against terrorists in recent years.
Awad’s sentence also reflected convictions on seven counts of attempted murder, weapons charges and for membership in a banned organization relating to other terrorist operations in which he was involved.
He was also fined NIS 275,000.
Ziad Awad’s son, Iz-Adin, 18, was sentenced to 20 years in jail and fined NIS 325,000 for aiding his father in the murder.
The elder Awad, 42, was indicted on June 23, 2014, following his arrest in May 2014 by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) and police commandos on suspicion that he stood by the side of Route 35 while shots were fired at passing vehicles, including the one driven by Mizrahi as he headed with his family to a Passover Seder.
During the investigation, Iz-Adin turned in the weapon used in the attack, an AK 47 assault rifle, and also provided information about the crime that indicated his involvement in it, according to the Shin Bet.
The Shin Bet had said in 2014 that they also learned that the younger Awad acquired a motorcycle and the rifle in order to carry out the attack.
A week before the shooting, he scouted out the location to gather intelligence, according to the security service.
After the killing, Ziad Awad told his son that he carried out the shooting for religious reasons, telling him, “According to Islam, anyone who kills a Jew goes to heaven,” the Shin Bet said.
The investigation found more than 50 bullet shells at the scene, which they traced to a single assault rifle, as well as a magazine that had both a fingerprint and a DNA sample.
In May 2014, Awad was arrested at his house in the West Bank village of Idna near Hebron, by a team from the police anti-terrorism unit YAMAM. Officers circled his house and ordered him to surrender.
He complied without resisting.
Mizrahi, 47, in addition to serving with police intelligence, was also a lieutenant colonel in the IDF reserves, and served in the “8200” unit of the Military Intelligence Directorate AMAN.
Police have said that Mizrahi was instrumental in helping improve the signals-intelligence capabilities of police, advancements they said have proved fruitful in the battle against organized crime.