The family of a British exchange student stabbed to death in Israel has criticised the “lenient” sentence handed down on Monday to the man found guilty of her killing.
Palestinian Jamil Tamimi, 59, was given a 18-year sentence for murdering 20-year-old Hannah Bladon on a tram as she was going to the church where she volunteered.
Murder usually carries a life sentence in Israel, but Tamimi had accepted a plea bargain acknowledging he is mentally ill and admitted to his guilt while being exempted from paying the Bladon family financial compensation.
"This was not a terrorist incident … This was a terrible murder carried out by a mentally ill person," the prosecutor at the Jerusalem District Court said, explaining why a life prison sentence had not been sought.
Maurice Hirsch, the family’s representative, said on Monday that Ms Bladon’s family was disappointed by the length of the sentence.
"For the family, it makes no difference whether this was a terror attack or just another crazed murderer," Mr Hirsch said.
"They are outraged by the leniency of the sentence. They expected that Hannah’s murderer would spent the rest of his life behind bars."
Ms Bladon was a religious studies undergraduate at the University of Birmingham who arrived in Jerusalem last January as part of an exchange programme with The Hebrew University.
She had reassured friends on Facebook that she was safe in Jerusalem.
“I’m OK thanks. Security is really tight on campus so no worries at mo [sic]. Managed to see a lot of sites before starting my classes today so having a great time,” she wrote.
The court heard on Monday how Tamimi targeted Ms Bladon, from Burton-upon-Trent, at random when she came within his reach after offering her seat to an older woman, stabbing her at least seven times in the April 2017 attack.
Tamimi had recently returned to his home in east Jerusalem after being released from a psychiatric facility in northern Israel.
Tamimi’s lawyer said the defendant attacked Ms Bladon in a rage at his sons insisting that he stay in a mental institution rather than with them. "This drove him to stab a person to death so that he would be shot dead," the lawyer said.
The Shin Bet, Israel’s equivalent of MI5, said Tamimi was also suicidal and appeared to have carried out the attack in the hope of being killed by Israeli forces. He had attempted suicide by swallowing a razor blade in hospital last year, the Shin Bet said.
Tamimi responded to the sentencing by telling the court on Monday: "I’m sorry. I wish I could take her (Bladon’s) place. I did not mean to murder her. I don’t know how it happened."
Dozens of Palestinians who carried out similar attacks, many of them as a political act against Israel, have been shot by security forces or armed civilians.