(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Office)
On 12 July 2005, a suicide attack was perpetrated adjacent to the Netanya mall in which five people were murdered and 88 were wounded. The Islamic Jihad in Tulkarm – one of the most dangerous terrorist infrastructures in Samaria today, and which has perpetrated many attacks against Israeli targets during the calm – was responsible for the attack.
The suicide terrorist, Ahmed Gawi, born in 1987, a resident of Atil, and his handler, Asaf Zaharan, born in 1976, a resident of Ilar, entered Israeli territory assisted by two Israeli citizens, who – according to their statements to the ISA – have regularly transported persons illegally in Israel, for some years. The two – Kfir Levy (born in 1980) of Ramat Gan and Wasif Azam (born in 1972) of Taybeh – admitted that on 12 July 2005, they transported two residents of Samaria to Taybeh via the IDF checkpoint at Tzofin, after Levy had exploited the fact that he was Jewish to avoid being checked.
Abdul Aziz Rahman Abu Mokh, a resident of Baka al-Garbiyeh, was also arrested; he admitted to collecting Gawi, accompanying him to Taybeh and driving him to Netanya.
All three have claimed that they were unaware that Gawi and Zaharan were terrorists. However, it arose from their investigation that Levi and Azam knew that they were not innocent Palestinian workers and suspected them of being petty criminals. Abu Mokh knew Zaharan from previous criminal dealings.
Zaharan, a petty criminal, admitted to having accepted $10,000 from Nadal Ali Abu Saadeh, an Islamic Jihad terrorist, one month before the attack, in exchange for infiltrating a suicide terrorist into Israel. Abu Saadeh, who was “arrested” by the Palestinian Authority Special Forces in Tulkarm for his involvement in the 25 February 2005 suicide bombing at the Stage Club in Tel Aviv, oversaw the attack despite being under “arrest” and frequently traveled around Tulkarm unhindered. He provided Zaharan with a forged Israeli ID card in order to lessen the suspicion that he would be arrested and purchased for him a black bag used to conceal the explosives.
On 12 July 2005, Zaharan and Abu Saadeh drove towards Nablus, picking up Gawi along the way. Abu Saadeh gave Zaharan NIS 1,700 and told him to take a taxi to the Anabta checkpoint. A young man with Israeli ID would be waiting on the other side, who would take him to Taybeh for NIS 1,000. Abu Saadeh instructed Zaharan to go with Gawi to Netanya.
Zaharan acted according to instructions. He was picked up by Wasif Azam. Muweid Musa, who was later killed in a clash with security forces had contacted Azam and arranged for him to pick up Zaharan and Gawi. (It should be pointed out that Azam had been warned by the security forces in August 2002 not to assist residents of Judea and Samaria in entering Israel.)
Azam admitted that he and Kfir Levy had, for the past seven months, regularly brought persons who lacked permits to enter Israel into Israel through the Tzofin checkpoint in Levy’s car (to avoid being checked due to Levy being Jewish), with Azam driving ahead in his car and acting as a lookout. Azam said that the security fence has destroyed the ability to perpetrate criminal acts in the area, thus making it necessary to use Jews in order passing through the checkpoints. Accordingly, Azam drove Zaharan and Gawi to the meeting point with Levy where they changed to his car. Azam had checked Gawi’s bag and found it to contain clothes and a smaller bag that he did not check but which, he was told, contained tools for breaking into cars; he later informed Levy of this. Zaharan and Gawi changed back to Azam’s car near Kochav Yair.
Upon reaching Taybeh, Zaharan contacted Abu Mokh, who around 17:00 came to Taybeh and collected them. Zaharan informed him that Gawi was a resident of Lod who was en route to Netanya to visit relatives and showed Abu Mokh Gawi’s forged Israeli ID card. Abu Mokh claimed that he became suspicious en route to downtown Netanya but did nothing.
Abu Mokh let Gawi off near the mall and says that he had managed to drive only a few dozen meters when he heard the explosion. Gawi had removed the smaller bag and left the larger bag in the trunk of Abu Mokh’s car. Even though he understood what had occurred, he drove with Zaharan to Baka al-Garbiyeh where he threw away the larger bag that Gawi had left in the car. He later bought Zaharan coffee at a local café.
This is not the first time an Israeli Jew has transported terrorists.