The Ofer military court on Wednesday handed terrorist Ahmad Na'afez Maslama a light sentence, after he was convicted of stabbing a Jew in the Christian Arab town of Beit Jala, near Jerusalem.
The attack occurred approximately two-and-a-half years ago, when Maslama, who is from the Bethlehem-area Arab town of Dheisha, injured Aharon Heller, stabbing him nine times on his face using an Exacto knife.
Maslama was thereafter convicted of attempted intentional manslaughter, which in Israeli law is the equivalent of attempted murder. In their Wednesday ruling, the judges sentenced him to 15 and a half years in prison.
Despite a demand by the Military Prosecutor's Office that Maslama receive between 19-25 years in prison, the judges decided on a lighter sentence, accepting the claim that the terrorist found the knife by coincidence, and therefore did not plan the attack early enough, Yediot Aharonot said.
"We need to take into account that the accused found the Exacto knife used in the attack by happenstance, and did not intentionally arm himself with it ahead of time, as in other cases. Indeed, the accused's actions were done after prior thought, when he ambushed his victim after noticing him, but this is a 'short-term' pre-planning, in my opinion," Judge Rani Amar wrote in his ruling.
"I'm in shock," Aharon Heller, the victim, said Wednesday after hearing the sentence. "I did not believe that the court would issue such a sentence. It seems that the judges do not understand the need to create deterrence, so that such incidents do not happen in the future. I and my family hope that the Prosecutor's Office will submit an appeal, and that the terrorist's punishment will be increased. If not, then that is a huge failure."