An Arab Israeli who carried out a bus bombing in Tel Aviv while Israeli forces were embroiled in an operation in the Gaza Strip last month made two practice runs before carrying out the terror attack, according to new details that have emerged.
Terrorist \»practiced\» TA bus bombing
Muhammad Mafarji, 18, was charged at the Tel Aviv Magistrate\’s Court on Wednesday with multiple counts of attempted murder and aiding the enemy during wartime. The attack that targeted bus No. 142 while it was traveling in the heart of the central Israeli city left 24 injured.
"I did this because of Operation Pillar of Defense," Mafarji told police, denying that financial incentives drove him to commit the act of terror.
A special investigation unit has learned that in the two days before the bombing, Mafarji boarded buses traveling to Tel Aviv with an empty bag in order to scope out the best route. Only after making sure that he was ready to execute the plan he informed his handler, Ahmad Mussa, that everything was set for the attack.
On November 21 Mafarji was given a bag containing explosives and was instructed to activate it before getting off the bus. As he did every day in the three months preceding the bombing, Mafarji left the Palestinian village of Beit Lakiya, where he lived, for Modiin, where he worked at a McDonald\’s branch.
The Israeli ID that he and his co-workers carried allowed him to sneak the bomb into Israel\’s territory undisturbed. Mafarji, who was driven to work by his manager, then pretended to receive a phone call from his sick mother and asked to go see her. He got off at the Shilat Junction and took bus No. 111 to Tel Aviv.
Though the bus was crowded, Mafarji decided against activating the explosives then and there. He told investigators that "the bus was full of children and I didn’t want them to get hurt," but the probe found that the bus he had taken was primarily transporting Arab adults.
Upon his arrival in Tel Aviv Mafarji quickly boarded a local bus, but since it was empty, he got off and got on yet another bus – the 142.
Near the Arlozorov train station Mafarji rigged the remote-controlled explosive device in his bag and got off the bus, leaving the bag behind him.
In the train station, Mafarji called his handler and informed him he had gotten off the bus, a code meaning the bomb was in place and ready to be set off. The voice on the other end replied "wrong number," which indicated that his message has been received.
At this point the handler called the mobile phone placed inside Mafarji\’s bag, setting off the bomb.
By the time the bombing had occurred, Mafarji was on the train to Modiin, where he was due for his shift at McDonald\’s. Several hours later the branch was surrounded by counter-terrorism forces that apprehended him.