The Shomron Military Court sentenced an Arab from the Balata neighborhood of Shechem, located 21 miles east of Ra'anana, to six years in jail Wednesday for attempting to carry out a terror attack against Israeli diners in a Ramat Gan restaurant.
The terrorist, Ihab Abu Rial, is a member of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, a group associated with Fatah which is headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Abu Rial worked for three years at the “Grill Express” restaurant. Together with a fellow employee who was his accomplice, he planned to poison the restaurant’s clients in early 2008.
They planned to carry out the poisoning in the early afternoon on a Tuesday, a time at which the restaurant is usually packed with diners. The two intended to use a white, odorless poison, and tasteless powder with a slow-release component which would have been undetectable when slipped into the food, in order to maximize the number of diners hurt.
The two were to have received the poison from two PA terrorists, Hani Ka'abi and Hosni Tzalag, also from the Balata neighborhood of Shechem. The cell also considered infiltrating a suicide bomber into the area with the assistance of the two restaurant workers.
Ka’abi was killed in an operation by the elite IDF undercover Duvdevan unit shortly after the arrests of the restaurant workers was made public, and Tzalag, his deputy, was arrested.
Abu Rial and the accomplice granted permission to the Al Aksa Martyrs to take official credit for the attack when it hit the news, and say that it was an act of revenge for the killing of top Hizbullah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh. At the request of Ka'abi, the restaurant workers also agreed to join as members of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades.
On the day of his arrest, Abu Rial was told that the poison was ready, and he was instructed to come and collect it from Shechem. He was picked up by agents of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) before he could carry out the plot.
At the sentencing, Abu Rial asked the military judge, IDF Captain Yariv Navon, to be lenient with him because he was in a depressed and suicidal state at the time of the offenses, after the woman he had chosen for a bride married another man.
The judge noted in his verdict that Abu Rial was the one who came up with the idea of a mass poisoning: “The accused made cynical and evil use of the official permits he received for staying and working inside Israel. He did this in order to deceitfully persuade his employers to hire his friend as a new worker, and with intent for the friend to assist in carrying out large-scale murder of innocent people, whose only sin was that they wanted to sit at a restaurant and have a meal.”