Court Upgrades Terrorist’s Conviction, Now Guilty of Attempted Murder

Israeli soldiers and rescue personnel outside a Rami Levy supermarket in the Etzion bloc where a Palestinian terrorist stabbed an Israeli woman in the back. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

A military court on Monday upgraded the charges against Hamza Elfilat, the Arab terrorist who stabbed an Israeli woman in Gush Etzion in 2015. He had previously in 2017 been convicted of criminally stabbing Nurit Zamora in the parking lot of the Rami Levy supermarket at the Etzion Junction, and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Responding to an appeal by the family, the court relabeled the incident as a terror attack, in which Elfilat was trying to murder his victim for nationalist reasons. Sentencing on that charge will take place at a later date, but a significantly longer sentence is likely.

Elfilat stabbed Zamora, a resident of the Chevron Hills town of Beit Hagai, in the back as she was loading groceries into her vehicle outside the supermarket. The terrorist hit her spinal column – but not the spinal cord, b’chasdei Shamayim. As a result she was badly injured, but survived. The supermarket is just one of numerous businesses frequented by Jews and Arabs at the junction, which in recent years has become a major shopping hub for residents of not only Efrat, Kiryat Arba and other Jewish towns in the area, but for residents of Arab villages in the region as well. The attack on Zamora occurred during a period when there were many similar attacks in the Gush Etzion area.

The defense attempted to argue – successfully, in the first trial – that the fact that the terrorist’s knife was very small and broke in the back of the victim was evidence that he was attempting to avoid killing her. In the retrial, the court said that that was not sufficient evidence of intent, and that it was clear  he was attempting to murder Zamora. She was badly injured, but eventually recovered.

Attorney Chaim Bleicher of the Honenu organization, who represented Zamora, said the family was grateful to the court for the revision of the sentence. “It should be clear to everyone that a stabbing on the basis of national motivation is a terror attack aimed at murdering a terrorist’s victim, regardless of the length of the knife. The new decision supports the logic and justice Israelis expect in the prosecution of terrorists. We must act in all ways, including legally, to restore true deterrence against terrorists.”