The central suspect in last month’s Tel Aviv bus bombing planted the explosive
device and then took the train back to his job at the McDonald’s eatery in
Modi’in, prosecutors stated in an indictment issued on
Muhammad Abed al-Jaffer Nasser Mafarja, an 18-year-old
resident of Taiba, was charged in the Tel Aviv District Court 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.
the West Bank, Mafarja was able to move within the Green Line and acquire
Israeli identification documents after a family reunification. Twenty-six 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.
Indictments were pending
against three other suspects 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.
suspects were named on Wednesday as Ahmad Salah Ahmad Musa, a 25-year-old
resident of Beit Likya; Fuad Rabah Shukri Atzi, a 27-yearold Beit Likya
resident; and; Muhammad Mahfud Said Damra, a 25-year-old resident of Kafr Mazra
According to the indictment, Musa served as the head of
the cell and was in charge of acquiring intelligence on the targets, making the
bombs and recruiting others to place the bombs. He is suspected of remotely
detonating the Tel Aviv bomb and police said he admitted to planning other
attacks during his interrogation.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency)
said that Musa taught himself how to make the remote-detonated bomb by watching
videos online. The medium-sized bomb was packed with over 800 screws and used
fireworks components as its explosive ingredient.
Musa also attempted to
recruit would-be suicide bombers – including from among the student population
at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah, where Mafarja also studied – but was
unsuccessful, the Shin Bet added. It also alleged that he planned to carry out a
drive-by shooting of soldiers in the West Bank.
According to prosecutors,
on the morning of the bombing, Mafarja spent a few hours riding around on
several different buses in Tel Aviv while carrying the bomb, all while looking
for a bus full of passengers.
Eventually, he got on Bus 142 from Ramat
Gan to Tel Aviv.
Just before he arrived at a bus stop at the Ramat Gan
industrial district, Mafarja activated the bomb and then left it on the third
seat on the right side and got off the bus. He called Musa immediately afterward
and told him that the bomb was in place. Minutes later, the bus arrived near the
corner of Shaul Hamelech Boulevard and Henrietta Szold Street, where the bomb
Prosecutors said that after Mafarja got off the bus, he
took a train from the Savidor Central Train Station back to Modi’in, where he
returned his job at the McDonald’s eatery in the Azrieli Mall.
Bet and police said that several hours after the bombing, they managed to arrest
the members of the Beit Likya-based cell.
Superintendent Rona Morad-
Fingelay, the head of the special investigations branch of the Yarkon Police
Subdistrict, said on Wednesday that police had identified Mafarja as the bomber
within an hour or so of the attack and that by 4:30 p.m., police and Shin Bet
officers had arrested him at his place of work. Shortly thereafter, he led
police to the other members of the cell, she said.
that hundreds of police, Border Police, Shin Bet and IDF personnel took part in
the shortlived manhunt.
Though she would not get into the specifics of
how police homed in on him, Morad-Fingelay said it was not prior intelligence
that lead them to Mafarja, who was seen by a number of people fleeing the scene
of the bombing and was caught on CCTV video at the site as well.
that during a Shin Bet interrogation following his arrest, Mafarja confessed to
the crime and reenacted it for the investigators.
Amira Castro, 56,
witnessed the explosion on November 21, and was walking through the courthouse
on Wednesday, unaware that the prime suspect had just been indicted.
asked how she felt about knowing that the man could face several life sentences,
Castro, who said that she still has nightmares about the bombing, said, “What
does it give me? I’m still traumatized.”