Mohammed Salaimeh, an Arab terrorist who tried to run down and kill five female Border Patrol officer in Jerusalem on the day the city celebrates Purim, was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Sunday. The sentence was due to a plea bargain Salaimeh entered into.
Although Israel does not have a death penalty for terrorists, most of those who do try to kill Israelis are sentenced to life in prison. In general, parole boards in Israel take off a third of a prisoner's sentence for good behavior, unless they are involved in extraordinary violence in prison. As a result, the 22 year old could be out of prison well before his 40th birthday.
The incident occurred on the morning of March 6, when Purim was celebrated in Jerusalem, on Highway 1 (Uzi Narkiss Boulevard), generally considered to be the demarcation line between the Jewish neighborhoods in the west of the city, and the Arab neighborhoods on its east side. When he arrived at the Border Patrol headquarters in the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood, he saw the officers standing in a crosswalk, at which point he backed up, slammed on the gas and ran over the officers together with a bicyclist.
A Border Patrol officer who was manning the base's entrance at the time of the attack together with another security guard saw the attack and opened fire at Salaimeh, damaging his car and bringing it to a halt. Salaimeh then exited the vehicle while holding an axe in his hand, at which point the officer and security guard again fired at him, wounding the terrorist.
A total of six Border Patrol officers were wounded at different levels of severity due to the attack, along with the bicyclist who happened to be on the scene. In addition to the 25 year sentence, Salaimeh is required to pay four of the victims NIS 100,000, and NIS 20,000 to an additional three.
According to Salaimeh's lawyer, Mohammed Mahmud, his client deserved a plea bargain, despite the fact that the indictment clearly indicates intent, opportunity, and means, usually sufficient for an attempted murder conviction. “This is a 'normal' family that was never involved in security matters before, and none have even been involved in throwing rocks. The family was not aware of what their son planned to do.”
As for Salaimeh himself, said Mahmoud, “he had very strong complaints against the government and the way Arabs are treated by the city. He had a very hard time finding work, as do many Arabs in the eastern parts of Jerusalem. Not that I justify this action, but I believe that the government must do more to help residents of Arab neighborhoods of the city.”