Haifa District Court sentenced on Monday Murad Ali Hussein, a 24 year-old Palestinian from Qabatiya in the northern West Bank, to 12 years in prison for entering the home of a family in the Avtalion community in the lower Galilee and trying to kidnap them. He reportedly intended to ransom his hostage to the Israeli government in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners.
The homeowners scared off Hussein by firing gunshots, after which he threw Molotov cocktails at cars parked in the community.
The incident occurred in April 2014, when Hussein illegally entered Israel and arrived at Avtalion in the lower Galilee along with a relative, who was a minor. Hussein attempted to persuade him to help him in his kidnapping plot, but the minor refused and left the area.
According to the indictment, Hussein arrived at a house in the town armed with a knife, and tried to enter the house of an Israeli in order to kidnap anyone who was at home. He struggled with the homeowners, Israel and Ela Shay, while trying to break through the glass door of the living room with a rock. Eventually, he managed to enter the room, and the attack was only foiled when Israel fired his pistol at his attacker, causing him to flee.
The indictment also charged the accused with throwing Molotov cocktails on several occasions. According to the indictment, Hussein produced eight firebombs and threw them at vehicles on the roads of the Misgav Regional Council in the Galilee region, in two different incidents. There were no injuries, but damage was caused to two vehicles.
The defendant admitted to the allegations, but his lawyer argued that the acts committed by Hussein were not ideologically motivated, and that had his intention been to carry out attacks, "he would have planned them in advance and not improvise."
Haifa District Court Judge Ron Shapiro, who heard the case, was not convinced. "The reasons that led the defendant to commit the offences must be taken into account," Shapiro wrote in the ruling. "(Hussein's) intention was to attack Jews and bring about the release of prisoners who are serving life sentences by using hostages as a bargaining tool."
Hussein's lawyer claimed that his client's family was coping with economic hardship. The judge ruled that the arguments do not justify the crimes carried out by the defendant, "which could have resulted in a fatal outcome."
The judge consequently sentenced the defendant to eight years in prison for attempting to kidnap and hurt Israel and Ela Shay. He received a partially suspended sentence for his other offences. In addition, judge Shapiro ruled that Hussein would compensate the couple to the tune of NIS 8,000, as well as pay NIS 3,000 compensation for the drivers whose cars were damaged in the firebomb attacks.