TA bus bomb 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
The Jerusalem Post has learned that the man accused of bombing a Tel Aviv bus during Operation Pillar of Defense in November, 2012 is expected to accept a plea bargain deal on Monday.
As part of the plea bargain, Muhammad Abed al-Jaffer Nasser Mafarja will admit to most of the charges and facts against him, but the charges against him for carrying out the bombing in coordination with the Hamas war effort against Israel at the time will be dropped.
There is no agreement as of yet on the length of prison time that Mafarja will be sentenced to. However, the dropped charges are significant in that while the prosecution is expected to seek a lengthy prison sentence, life in prison – the punishment for the dropped charge – will be off the table.
Mafarja is accused of – and in July, generally admitted to – placing an explosive device on the exploded bus.
But even as he made that admission, he maintained that he had only wanted to hurt people, to raise awareness and to end the conflict, not to kill anyone.
Mafarja, a 19-year-old resident of Taiba, is charged with aiding the enemy in a time of war, dozens of counts of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit a crime, causing an explosion, aggravated assault, illegally transporting weapons and giving assistance to an illegal organization.
26 people were injured in the November 21 bus bombing in Tel Aviv, which took place a week after Operation Pillar of Defense began in Gaza.
During his arraignment hearing at the Tel Aviv District Court, Mafarja’s lawyer objected to the use of the word “bomb,” saying that the device was purposely constructed of lower-grade explosives that could not possibly have killed anyone.
He claimed that he had been on another bus previously but had decided not to place the explosive device, fearing it was too crowded and people would be killed.
Originally from the West Bank, Mafarja was able to move within the Green Line and acquire Israeli identification documents after a family reunification.
Indictments have been filed against several other suspects who prosecutors claimed were part of a “military cell” from the Ramallah area, which they said also plotted to carry out suicide bombings and shooting attacks against politicians and soldiers.
In January, the Military Advocate-General’s Office filed an indictment with the West Bank Military Court of Judea against the alleged mastermind of the bus bombing, Ahmad Salah Ahmad Musa, a 25-year-old resident of Beit Likya.