Memorial Day attack terrorist sentenced

Scene of the attack; Photo credit: Social media

Monday, September 19, 2022, 15:06 The Central District Court in Lod sentenced Muhammad Risha to 21 years’ imprisonment for stabbing Batya Lebel 13 times in a terror attack in April 2020. Lebel, who was 62 years old at the time of the attack, was present at the hearing accompanied by Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher, who is representing her. In December 2021, Risha was convicted of attempted murder in an act of terror and illegally entering Israel.

Bleicher criticized the leniency of the penalty: “The sentencing does reflect the increase in the severity of penalization over the past few years. However, it does not fulfill the need for deterrence against terror. The legislature ruled that the maximum penalty is 25 years, and the sentencing falls short of that. A 20-year-old terrorist repeatedly stabbed a woman over the age of 60 in an extremely vicious attack. This is exactly the sort of case in which the maximum penalty allowed by law should be handed down. It is regrettable that the court did not do so. We will ask the office of the State Attorney to appeal the sentencing and demand a stiffer penalty.”

The office of the Central District Attorney requested a sentence of 23 years’ imprisonment. Prior to the hearing, Bleicher stated, “We expect the court to penalize the terrorist to the full extent of the law, and not to hand down a lenient sentence. Terror is defeated by deterring terrorists, and the courts are part of the war on 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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