A Tel Aviv court on Thursday convicted Issa Islam of murder. Islam, a truck driver, killed a 29 year old Israeli and injured 17 when he drove his truck onto a sidewalk in Tel Aviv last year, and then continued driving for two kilometers, hitting pedestrian Aviv Morag and several vehicles before crashing into an Egged bus. Morag was killed.
Islam, a resident of the Arab town of Kafr Kassem, denied that he had carried out a terror attack, claiming that he had been “confused and scared” and had lost control of the truck when driving in downtown Tel Aviv, and that the incident had been an accident. Islam's attorneys claimed during the trial that their client “did not know what he was doing,” a claim that the court categorically rejected.
The attack took place on May 15, 2011, “Naqba Day,” in which Arabs mourn the establishment of Israel in 1948. “I didn't wake up that day planning to murder people,” Islam told the court. “I wouldn't even think of such a thing. I barely listen to the news and am not interested in such things. I see no difference between Jews and Arabs. I worked for Jews and they treated me nicely. I am not a racist, I would never even think to hurt a Jew,” Islam said.
Aviv Morag, a victim of Islam's driving rampage, was engaged to be married, and planned to wed this year. He left behind two older sisters and one younger sister. Aviv's father said he had been on the phone with his son at the time of the attack. After the crash, Aviv's phone was cut off, and his father was unable to reestablish contact. Aviv's father eventually became Islam's second victim; unable to overcome the depression of losing his son, he ended his own life several months after the terror attack.
Islam will be sentenced at a later date.