Four Israelis were murdered by the axe-wielding Palestinians during a rampage on Independence Day 5 May 2022.
By Erin Viner
As’ad Alrafa’ani, 20, and Sabhi Abu Shakir, 21 were convicted of murder under terrorist circumstances by the Lod District Court.
“The defendants resolved to commit a terror attack in Israel and to kill Jewish-Israeli citizens for being such, out of a nationalist-ideological motive,” read the indictment.
Both pleaded guilty to the charges. In accordance with plea deals between their legal representatives and the State Attorney’s Office, they were sentenced to serve four consecutive life sentences – one for each of the victims. 20 more years were added to the terms for commission of additional offenses, including other terrorist-related activities and illegal entry to Israel.
The vicious attack was carried out in the central, largely ultra-Orthodox Jewish city of Elad about 15 km (9 miles) from Tel Aviv.
Abu Shakir reportedly masterminded the crime after deciding to die as a so-called ‘Palestinian martyr’ following the death of a friend in clashes with the IDF. Alrafa’ani eventually agreed to participate in part due to false propaganda that Israel was ‘attacking’ the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. When attempts to acquire firearms failed, they bought two axes and knives.
The first killed was Lod resident Oren Ben Yiftah, who unknowingly offered the pair a ride to Elad after they cut through the West Bank security fence. The 35-year-old father of six was stabbed 21 times and dumped on the roadside. After chasing several victims who managed to get away, the killers then hacked to death Boaz Gol, 49, and Yonatan Havakuk, 44. Both the father of five.
75-year-old Shimon Ma’atuf, who was working as a security guard, managed to open fire on assailants prior to being struck in the head and jaw. The father of six and grandfather of 13 later succumbed to those severe injuries in February after remaining in a coma at the Rabin Medical Center for nine months.
Much of the killing spree took place amid Israeli Independence Day festivities at a playground, where many children – including those of the victims- witnessed the brutal slayings. One of the injured victims who survived the attacks was severely injured while seated on a park bench with his four young children, all under the age of 8.
The terrorists fled the scene but were captured by Israeli security forces nearly four days later hiding in a forest near their village of Rumana near Jenin.
At the time, the Islamist Hamas rulers of Gaza praised the Elad attack, which came just days after the terror group’s leader Yahyah Sinwar called on Palestinians and Israeli Arabs to kill Jews by any means.
The Elad killings were among a surge of murderous Palestinian attacks on Israelis last spring that prompted the defense establishment to launch Operation Waves Breaker aimed at eradicating Arab terror that killed 31 people in Israel during 2022.