Kalkilya man convicted over Tel Aviv terror attack

Mohammed Zofan admitted carrying out attempted murder, other charges after state refused plea bargain.

Tel Aviv terror attack 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/ Nir Elias)
Tel Aviv terror attack 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/ Nir Elias)
The Tel Aviv District Court convicted a 21-year-old Kalkilya man of attempted murder on Sunday, in connection with a terror attack in south Tel Aviv last August.
The court also convicted Mohammed Bin Said Zofan of four other charges: injury with serious intent, robbery, illegal residency and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Eight people were injured in the terror attack, in which Zofan carjacked a taxi at knifepoint and rammed it into Border Police officers Or Hakim and Albert Sabah, and a civilian bystander, Itay Weinberg, before stabbing several others.
The panel of judges – comprised of Sarah Dotan, Daphna Avnieli and Shaul Shohet – convicted Zofan after he agreed through an interpreter to retract his earlier not guilty plea and admitted the charges against him.
Following the conviction, the State Attorney’s Office said the prosecution had not agreed to a plea bargain since the severity of the offenses did not justify any relief to the defendant, who was apprehended at the scene and admitted to carrying out the offenses for nationalistic reasons.
The court will hear arguments for sentencing on April 18.
A second defendant, 21- year-old south Tel Aviv resident Muhammad Bin Saddam Hussein Biari, was also charged in connection with the terror attack – with conspiracy to commit a crime, failure to prevent a crime and destroying evidence.
According to the indictment filed in September, in 2011 Zofan was living in Israel illegally, working at odd jobs and sleeping in an abandoned apartment next to the Siksik Mosque in Jaffa.
Zofan met Biari, an Arab- Israeli from Jaffa, while praying at the mosque. The two then began to plan a terror attack.
By July 2011, Zofan had started a course of physical training for the terror attack. He practiced using weapons such as knives and sticks in his apartment.
On August 12, during Ramadan, Zofan and Biari hatched a plot to stab members of Israeli security forces and civilian Jewish Israelis near the Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem.
They bought two knives and traveled by bus to the capital, staying at the Aksa Mosque for two weeks.
After speaking to a cleric at the mosque, however, Zofan told his friend that he had decided to act alone and would return to Jaffa to become a “martyr.” Before he left, Zofan used Biari’s cellphone to record a short film of himself for his parents.
On August 28, Zofan went to the new central bus station in Tel Aviv, planning to stab a soldier, steal his gun and shoot Border Police officers. When he failed to find a suitable victim, he noticed a tractor on a building site on Yedidia Frenkel Street in the Florentin neighborhood.
Zofan decided to steal the tractor and use it to run over soldiers.
That night, Zofan returned to the construction site but could not find the tractor. He decided to hijack a taxi instead and used it to attack officers standing at the nearby intersection of Abarbanel and Salameh streets.
Biari was arrested shortly afterward, but had already deleted Zofan’s movie from his cellphone.