The Haifa District Court sentenced Tuesday Pikri Mantsur of the Gath community to a 17-year prison term with an additional three years suspended sentence for having driven the suicide-bomber who executed the terror attack on the Hadera market in October 2005. Mantsur was convicted of aiding and abetting an enemy at war, as well as on six counts of accessory to murder in October 2007.
The suicide-bomber from the West Bank village of Qabatiya blew himself up, killing six people and injuring about 30. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, and the IDF successfully took out the instigator as well as another Jihad operative, during a military operation.
The investigation by the Shin Bet led to the arrest of Mantsur, a former Palestinian who moved to Israel following a family reunification; and is the owner of the minibus that drove the suicide-bomber from Gath to Hadera. Mantsur maintained his innocence throughout the hearing and after the verdict was read: “I was only the driver, I didn’t know anything. Had I known, I would have informed the police,” he said.
Pikri Mantsur in court. "I didn't know anything." (Photo: Doron Golan)
The verdict states that “the defendant was aware of the fact that the intended target was a busy, crowded location and knew he was aiding an act of terror…the defendant’s actions are grave and severe,” determined presiding Judge Shoshana Shtemer and the honorable Yael Vinler and Diana Sela.
“His actions are twice as relentless, deserving suitable punishment – being that he is an Israeli citizen owning his allegiance to the State, but having betrayed it and its citizens.
“The cries of those murdered, the injured and their families are well heard over the written pages we have been presented with, telling their stories…the Israeli society’s disgust of the crimes committed by the one who has betrayer it is reflected in the severe penalty states by the code,” the verdict stated.
The judges maintained that one must take into consideration the fact that the defendant did not take part in planning the attack and was only made privy to it when the terrorist was already in his vehicle. Moreover, it has not been proven that the defendant’s acts were ideologically-motivated, a fact that would have also increased the severity of his sentence.