The Tel Aviv district Court on Thursday convicted Ashraf Keisi, a 28-year-old Israeli Arab from Baka al-Gharbiya of five counts of murder and dozens of attempted murders for his part in a suicide attack at a Tel Aviv club, the "Stage", in February 2005, which killed five people and injured fifty more.
Keisi was arrested a day after the attack, admitting in his interrogation that he had driven the bomber. Keisi also admitted to having been in contact with Abu Sa'ada, an Islamic Jihad operative from Tulkarm, and other terrorists, who wished to take advantage of the freedom of movement afforded him by his Israeli identity card.
Keisi was convicted not only of driving the suicide bomber to the club but of helping the terrorists select the target to be attacked. He was also pronounced guilty of assisting an enemy in wartime and supporting a terror organization. Keisi's conviction was based on the confession he gave to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
"There is no dispute over the fact that he drove the terrorist and even assisted in choosing the site," the judges wrote in the ruling. "Not only did he not thwart the attack, as he easily could have done, but he associated with [terrorists] ... and had a significant part in the attack."
Apparently, in one of their meetings, Abu Sa'ada told Keisi that Islamic Jihad intended to carry out a suicide attack in Israel and wanted him to provide the transportation.
According to the indictment, Keisi advised the attackers against choosing Netanya, allegedly claiming that due to the city's chilly climate people preferred to congregate indoors - and relatively out of reach. Keisi refused to help the bomber carry out the attack in Hadera, his hometown, recommending instead Tel Aviv's beachfront promenade.