Asher Palmer
Asher PalmerIsrael news photo: Arutz Sheva

The PA Arab terrorist who hurled the rock that killed Asher Palmer and his baby son Yonathan on Highway 60, convicted Tuesday of first degree murder, is appealing the conviction, having admitted to throwing rocks at Palmer's car but saying he did not intend to kill him. 

The verdict against Wael Salaman Mohammed el-Arjah, a cab driver from the town of Halhul, near Hevron, resident of Mt. Hevron, was handed down by a military court in Ofer Prison on two counts of murder. He was also convicted on 25 counts of attempted murder in cases of hurling rocks at Israelis on other occasions.

Arjah, the driver in the attack that involved a gang of six, two of whom were in the car at the time, faces a sentence of life in prison in connection with an incident that at first police believed to have been a motor vehicle accident.

But first responders at the scene knew better, and made sure to videotape the evidence.

The huge rock that had smashed through Palmer’s windshield, clearly seen through the broken glass, plus the fact that the Kiryat Arba resident appeared not to have his gun by his side, told a tale that made no sense to his would-be rescuers.

A subsequent CT scan of Palmer’s head corroborated the visual evidence and added more facts that clarified for police what had happened as they tried to figure out why Palmer’s car seemed to crash off the road.

It was later discovered that Arjah had hurled the rock at Palmer’s car in a drive-by road terror attack, causing Palmer to lose control of his vehicle, which crashed and led to his death and that of his infant son. 

"I'm very surprised by the verdict. The court didn't deal with this as a case of hurling an object or inflicting damage on a travelling car - which are crimes in Israeli law," Khaled Araj, the defense lawyer told the BBC"They took this route instead, going for the most serious charge which can carry the maximum penalty. I think the court came under extreme pressure from the settler movement to reach this verdict."

The other perpetrator who was in the terrorist car is named Albo, and his case comes up in court next month.

The verdict is seen as a long-awaited recognition by the courts that rock-throwing in certain circumstances can indeed be considered premeditated murder.

There have been a number of similar numerous murderous attempts by PA Arabs over the past year to kill Israeli motorists on the roads of Judea and Samaria.

Last month a rock throwing road terror attack in Samaria a few days before the Passover holiday left a 2-year-old toddler in critical condition. Her mother and two older sisters were also seriously wounded, although not as badly as baby Adelle, who has undergone numerous surgeries in the fight to save her life.

A similar rock throwing attack by an Arab teenager in Samaria nearly killed a baby in December, but the rock missed the infant, crashing instead on the seat just a few inches away.

As is often the case, mainstream media in Israel did not report on the incident, and international media ignored it altogether.

The incidence of such attacks has been growing, and in the past several month there have been reports of rock throwing on the roads of Judea and Samaria nearly every week.