TEL AVIV – An Arab Israeli man has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for planning to assassinate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on behalf of a Syria-based terrorist group.
Muhammad Jamal Rashdeh, a 31-year-old resident of eastern Jerusalem, was arrested on April 24 of last year along with two other unnamed suspects. His plea bargain included convictions of conspiracy to aid the enemy in wartime, conspiracy to murder, intent to carry out deadly terror attacks, and spying.
“Working on orders from terrorist operatives abroad, Muhammad planned to carry out a number of significant terror attacks against a variety of targets,” the security service said.
Rashdeh’s targets included the prime minister and mayor, as well as what was then the US consulate in Jerusalem and is now the embassy, the Shin Bet said. He also planned to commit a terror attack against a delegation of Canadian security officials who were in Jerusalem to train Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank.
According to the security agency, Rashdeh was working for members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), a terrorist group in Syria that fights for the Assad regime and is not affiliated with the locally-based PFLP from which it split in the 1960s. The Syria-based group was responsible for a series of fatal terror attacks in the 1970s and 1980s, including an attack on a school bus that claimed the lives of nine children and three adults.
Rashdeh and the other suspects were in the process of bringing in another terrorist from Jordan, the Shin Bet said.
Separately on Thursday, the Jerusalem district court sentenced a Palestinian man to 18 years in prison for stabbing and killing a British exchange student.
21-year-old British student Hannah Bladon was stabbed to death by 57-year-old Jamil Tamimi on Jerusalem’s light rail.
The prosecutor said that medical experts deemed the assailant mentally ill and not a terrorist.
“This is a shocking murder, without any nationalist element, carried out by a mentally ill person,” Sagiv Ozeri said.