The High Court on Thursday commuted the sentence of teen terrorist Ahmed Mansara, who had been sentenced to 12 years in prison for attempting to murder Naor Ben Ezra in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood of Yerushalayim in October 2015. Ben Ezra, who was riding his bicycle when he was stabbed by Mansara and his older cousin, was critically wounded in the attack. He made a miraculous recovery, eventually celebrating his bar mitzvah at the Kosel. Both youths are 15 today.
The court reduced Mansara’s sentence to nine and a half years. While the original punishment was in line with the types of punishments given to terrorists like Mansara, the court said that “we cannot ignore the fact that he is young, and that he is cooperating with the rehabilitation program of the institution he is located in, based on the documentation we have received.”
The attack on Ben Ezra became one of the symbols of the “individual intifada” of 2014 and 2015, in which terrorists went on almost weekly stabbing sprees in Yerushalayim. Mansara made international headlines when Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas publicly accused Israeli police of “executing” him. Large rallies were held in PA-controlled areas, and international headlines highlighted the “trigger-happy” Israeli police who killed an Arab youth who had been involved in nothing more than a “street fight” – until photos of Mansara receiving treatment in an Israeli hospital were distributed by the Health Ministry. In one of the photos, Mansara is seen holding up a finger into the air, in a gesture similar to that of IS terrorists.
Reaction from the Ben Ezra family and supporters was sharply critical. “This is a shameful nightmare,” Shai Ben Ezra, the victim’s father, told Channel Two. “With this decision, the court is actually encouraging terror. If prosecutors had sought to sentence Mansara to 24 years in prison, as we had sought, this terrorist would still remain in prison for a long time, even if his sentence was commuted for ‘good behavior.’ I cannot understand this decision.”