Nedal Amar, 42, and Muhammad Mafarja, 19, seem to have little in
That is, other than that both of them have been indicted or even
already convicted for notorious acts of terror, and curiously, both of them were
working in Israeli restaurants at the time the terrorist acts were
Amar has been indicted for the murder of IDF Sgt. Tomer
Hazan, 20, whom he knew personally and was friendly with – they were coworkers
in a Bat Yam restaurant.
Mafarja has been convicted of injuring 26 and
the attempted murder of an even larger number of passengers as part of the
November 2012 Tel Aviv bus bombing in the middle of Operation Pillar of
Unlike Amar, Mafarja did not know any of the passengers and was
allegedly seeking to harm persons he did not know.
strangled Hazan with his own hands and a belt from his brother’s pants after
Hazan had been fooled into being blindfolded and hand-cuffed.
Amar’s purpose was to trade Hazan – dead or alive – for the freedom of his
brother, in prison since 2003 for other terrorist acts.
Amar’s idea was
another Gilad Schalit kind of prisoner exchange, but just for his brother’s
There is no evidence that Hazan had any prior criminal record,
nor that he had fanatical, nationalistic or any other motivations other than
trying to free his brother, who begged him to undertake the
Mafarja on the other hand placed a bomb on a bus, left the
vehicle and then another operative detonated the bomb remotely. His hands
Mafarja has admitted that his actions were ideological,
though he has said that his goal was not so much to kill people per se, but
rather to convince the IDF to stop its military actions in Gaza.
men offered a completely different presence in court.
exhausted, downtrodden, close to tears and was open about regretting his
actions, even volunteering that he hoped that Hazan was the last victim in the
He was short, skinny and did not look the
picture of the scary terrorist (recalling that he strangled Hazan while Hazan
was bound and blindfolded).
Mafarja was short, but heavily built, and
while he looked out of sorts, he exchanged some jokes and smiles with his lawyer
and his Arabic translator, and ranged from yawning to watching his translator
playing with his cellphone.
Amar looked worn down from the recent events
in his life and mostly kept his head down.
Mafarja had a baby face and,
though certainly nervous, kept his head up throughout, seeming curious about his
surroundings, and surveying the room.
As different as the two are, the
most important fact that will likely summarize at least the next few decades of
their lives, is that each of them were allegedly involved in acts of terror and
might spend those decades behind bars.
Moreover, until regret sets in
with potential terrorists before, and not after, they commit an act of terror,
it is unlikely that these victims will be the last victims and far more likely
that any victims of these two men, both radically different and similar, will
just be added to a list born of a conflict with no foreseeable end.