A Military Appeals Court has convicted 34 year-old Iyad Abayat, a resident of Bethlehem and member of the Fatah-controlled Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades terrorist group, of four crimes of voluntary manslaughter.
On November 1, 2000, Abayat took part in a shooting attack near the El Khader village. He covered his cohorts, all of whom were dressed in IDF uniforms, as they placed roadblocks on the road. When an IDF vehicle carrying six soldiers approached, the group fired towards them at close range, killing Lt. David Chen Cohen and Sgt. Shlomo Adshina and injuring the other four soldiers.
Abayat was also involved in a shooting attack in 2002 on the road connecting Jerusalem and Gush Etzion. Terrorists opened fire on a vehicle belonging to the Friedman couple, killing Deborah Friedman and wounding her husband Yona Friedman.
Both the prosecution and defense appealed the Military Court’s initial more lenient ruling, and the Military Appeals Court accepted the prosecution’s appeal in its entirety. Abayat was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, assistance in voluntary manslaughter, attempted voluntary manslaughter and shooting a person with live fire.
In their ruling, the judges wrote that despite the fact that Abayat was not in the precise location in which the shooting took place, he still played an active role in the terror attack: “the appellant [Iyad Abayat] was asked by Musa Abayat to join him and other Tanzim operatives in the shooting attack. The appellant accepted the offer, and went to the site of the attack fully armed and equipped. Musa Abayat was in constant contact with the appellant during the event, giving him instructions from time to time. Therefore the appellant, though not at the precise location of the shooting, was aware and was kept updated throughout the entire development of events, waiting for group members in order to help them flee in his car after the attack. Thus, the appellant took an active role in the incident, even though his contribution had no active significance.
“As such, it is to be determined without doubt that the defendant participated in the shooting attack and holds responsibility for the attack as a party to the crime,” concluded the judges.
Abayat is one of many terrorists who have prosecuted for shooting attacks executed on Highway 60, a north-south road stretching from Be’er Sheva to Nazareth. Highway 60 is a main road that is used by Judea and Samaria residents. It has long been a popular choice by Arab terrorists as a place to commit terror attacks against Israelis, especially during the al-Aqsa Intifada, known [bitterly] as the Oslo [Peace Accords] War in which from 2000-2006, over a thousand Israeli civilians were killed by shootings and suicide bombings. The road continues to be a focus of attacks.
On August 31 of this year, Highway 60 was again the scene of a deadly terror attack. PA terrorists murdered Yitzchak and Talya Imas, Kochava Even-Chaim and Avishai Shindler in a shooting attack at the Bani Naim junction. Those terrorists were killed recently in a shootout with the IDF.
Terror attacks, and specifically shooting attacks, are typicaly called "resistance" attacks by Arabs, but they are violent, life threatening, and intentionally target civilian victims. A survey carried out by a PA organization in early August found that among the Arab public in the Palestinian Authority, over 55% view violence as either essential or desirable, nearly 31% see it as either acceptable or tolerable, and only 13.7% say it is unacceptable.