The Jerusalem District Court sentenced three Israeli Arabs to prison terms on Monday, for planning a terror attack against Jews for the Nof Yerushalayim event hall in the capital.
In its verdict, the judges stated that "the accused intended to assist terrorist organizations, whether via consultation with them or whether on their own, to attack Jews and undermine the sovereignty of the country."
Judge Yaakov Tsaban sentenced terrorists Anas Awisat and Basel Abidat to eight years in prison; terrorist Ahmed Srour was sentenced to seven years in prison.
In his decision, Tsaban cited the attacks' potential death toll – which would have been very high, as the three chose an event hall. The three chose the hall "carefully" after examining the premises, he noted, and "outlined a plan of action for killing many people."
According to the indictment, in early December 2013 Awisat and Abidat, residents of Jabel Mukaber, decided to carry out a terror attack against Israeli civilians in Jerusalem, for "nationalistic reasons" – i.e. to commit a terror attack.
They decided to carry out the attack in a banquet hall in Jerusalem, in order to kill the largest possible number of Jews.
Awisat proposed to carry out the attack in Nof Yerushalayim in the Bayit Vegan neighborhood, where he hadworked for a short time; he offered to carry out the attack there because he knew that between 800-1500 people were expected at most events at that hall.
The two terrorists were planning to carry out a shooting attack after arriving at the hall wearing haredi garb to hide their intentions, blending in with guests.
The two began purchasing weapons and ammunition; specifically, the two made preparations to obtain a "Mini Uzi" submachine gun – a deadly weapon proportionate to its small size, which would be easiest to hide. To do this, the two turned to an arms dealer in the Palestinian Authority (PA), and were told they would each have to pay 50,000 shekels ($13,029) to obtain two Mini Uzis. The two failed to raise the necessary funds.
In mid-December 2013 they then reached out to Ahmad Srour, also from Jabel Mukaber, to carry out the shooting attack with them. Srour offered 15,000 shekels ($3911) for weapons purchases as well. Shortly after, the three traveled to the hall, parked nearby and went on foot to examine the hall and its entrances at close range.
The three looked at the main entrance to the wedding hall and staff entrance; the three agreed to enter via the main hall. Further disagreements ensued, however, and Srour later backed out of the attack.
Not to be deterred, in early January 2014 the two recruited Amro Abdo, also from Jabal Mukaber, to carry out the shooting attack with them. In a number of meetings held between Awisat, Abidat and Abdo, they decided that it is better that all three will carry out the attack, so it would be possible to shoot and harm the greatest number of people.