Photo Credit: Gili Yaari / Flash 90
Israeli security forces at the scene where two terrorists opened fire at civilians in the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv

The two Palestinian Authority terrorists who opened fire at a café in Tel Aviv’s iconic Sarona market in 2016 were convicted Monday of four counts of murder, and 41 counts of attempted murder after murdering four Israelis, along with an accomplice.

Cousins Mohammad Mahmara and Khaled Mahmara, both age 21 and residents of the Hebron suburb of Yatta, each used a Carl Gustav assault rifle to carry out the attack which also left 41 people wounded, some critically. The attack — carried out on the Islamic holiday of Ramadan — utterly destroyed the trust so carefully built between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which had resulted in unprecedented freedom of movement between the PA territories and Israel.


Their accomplice, Ayash Mousa Zin of the Hebron suburb of Yatta, was allegedly held back by the cousins from fully joining the attack due to his financial obligations, which under Islamic law prohibit one from becoming a “martyr.” Tel Aviv District Court Justices Sarah Dotan and Yaron Levy both agreed Zin should be convicted on all charges along with the two cousins. Justice Mordechai Levy was the sole dissenter, rendering the minority opinion that Zin was only aiding and abetting in the attack.

According to the indictment filed in court, the two cousins purchased 12-inch knives and rat poison in which to dip the blades – so as to cause more harm to their victims when they stabbed them.

They also purchased suits, watches, leather briefcases, shoes and sun glasses – in short, two complete ensembles that would provide them with a convincing image of attorneys or businessmen – at a cost of NIS 2,600.

They later acquired their weapons in Yatta, and after target practice asked Zin to hide the guns. When it came time to use the weapons, a local ‘transport specialist’ who smuggled illegals into Israel from the Palestinian Authority accomplished the task of bringing the guns across the ‘Green Line.’

Meanwhile, the two shooters took a bus to Be’er Sheva and then a taxi to Tel Aviv, and asked around for a crowded place with restaurants and cafés so as to maximize their target.

What they settled on was the Sarona Market – an bustling open-air shopping center in the heart of the busiest city in the country, right next door to the Kirya military base, IDF and Defense Ministry headquarters.

Two of the terrorists pleaded guilty to most of the charges but insist they didn’t kill Ilana Nave, z’l 39, who fled when the shooting began, fell and lost consciousness. She was declared dead on arrival at a Tel Aviv medical center; the terrorists were held responsible for her death by the Tel Aviv District Court.

Three other victims, who were shot and killed, include Ido Ben-Ari, z’l 42, of Ramat Gan; Dr. Michael Feige, z’l 58, of Midreshet Ben-Gurion; and Mila Mishayev, z’l 32, of Rishon Lezion.

The attorney for the terrorists maintains that Zin will appeal his conviction on the murder charges, saying he had no part in the planning, nor did he choose the target.

Nave’s bereaved husband Alon, meanwhile, told reporters after the verdict was handed down that he was glad.

“They need to be sentenced to death,” he said. “I was worried they wouldn’t be convicted of her murder and that’s why I came today. I’m glad they were convicted. The appropriate punishment is [really] the death sentence and the expulsion of their families.”


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.