TA bus bomb 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
The Taibe resident accused of bombing a Tel Aviv bus during Operation Pillar of
Defense in November pleaded guilty on Sunday to placing an explosive device on
the bus, but maintained that he had only wanted to hurt people, to raise
awareness and end the conflict, not kill anyone.
Muhammad Abed al-Jaffer
Nasser Mafarja, an 18-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.
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.
By pleading to
the lesser charge, Mafarja could potentially avoid more serious charges that
carry longer jail time, like attempted murder.
During his arraignment
hearing at the Tel Aviv District Court on Sunday, 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.
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
Originally from the West Bank, Mafarja was able to move within
the Green Line and acquire Israeli identification documents after a family
Indictments have been filed 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.
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.
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 a crowded bus, 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 one of his
associates 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 was detonated.
that after Mafarja got off the bus, he took a train from the Savidor Central
Train Station back to Modi’in, where he returned to his job at the McDonald’s
eatery in the Azrieli Mall.
The Shin Bet and police said that several
hours after the bombing, they managed to arrest the members of the Beit
Likya-based cell.Ben Hartman contributed to this report.