Honenu: Appeal the Memorial Day attack terrorist’s sentence

Thursday, September 29, 2022, 12:35 Approximately two weeks ago, the Central District Court in Lod sentenced Muhammad Risha to 21 years’ imprisonment for stabbing Batya Lebel 13 times in a terror attack on Israeli Memorial Day in April 2020. The office of the Central District Attorney had requested a sentence of 23 years’ imprisonment, and the maximum sentence for Risha’s crimes is 25 years’ imprisonment.

Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher, who is representing Lebel, wrote a letter to the office of the State Attorney asking them to appeal the sentencing of the terrorist. Bleicher wrote in his letter that “the sentencing does reflect the increase in the severity of penalization over the past few years for attempted murder in an act of terror. However, it falls short of increasing the maximum penalty. The sentencing does not penalize the terrorist to the fullest extent allowed by law, even though this is the correct incident over which to do so. One must not ignore the symbolism of a vicious attack such as this being carried out on Israeli Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism. There is no doubt that in a proper world, such a terrorist would be sentenced to death or at least life imprisonment.”

The letter continued: “Our State, our citizens, and our people are in a war against a malicious and cruel enemy. Against such a monstrous enemy one must act with increased strength. The satisfaction of the panel of judges with a 21-year sentence sends a message of giving in to terror and, to some extent, containing it. We implore you to appeal the sentencing and demand a stiffer penalty. Even if the State Attorney is of the opinion that it is a matter of increasing the sentence by only two years, that is a fundamental statement and an extremely crucial message of deterrence against terror.”

The attack occurred on the morning of Israeli Memorial Day in April 2020. Muhammad Risha armed himself with a knife with a blade approximately 15 centimeters long. He left his house in Tul Karem and illegally entered an area under the control of the State of Israel. He boarded a bus intending to reach Tel Aviv, but during the ride changed his mind and decided to carry out the attack in Kfar Saba.

He disembarked on Weitzman Street, where he saw Batya Lebel. After a short conversation that he had initiated to verify that she was Israeli and Jewish, he drew the knife, rushed at her when her back was turned to him, and stabbed her 13 times. Despite her injuries, Lebel escaped and begged for help as Risha was chasing her. A driver passing by the site shot and incapacitated the terrorist. Lebel was evacuated in serious condition to Meir Hospital in K’far Saba where she was operated on and hospitalized.

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