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Israeli jew charged with driving suicide bomber

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Last update - 23:51 02/08/2005
Israeli Jew charged with driving suicide bomber into Netanya
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service

The Shin Bet domestic security service said Tuesday that an Israeli Jew from Ramat Gan is suspected of having brought into Israel the terrorist who carried out last month's Netanya suicide bombing.

Five people were killed in the July 13 bombing, for which the Islamic Jihad took responsibility.

Kfir Levy, 25, and two Israeli Arabs, from Taibeh and Baka al-Garbiyeh, were indicted Tuesday on manslaughter charges. The Tel Aviv District Court extended their remand until next Wednesday. A fourth suspect, a Palestinian man from the West Bank, was also arrested in connection with the bombing.

In a case that may have bearing on the three Israeli suspects, an Israeli Arab man tried for driving a suicide bomber to the site of a 2003 bombing was convicted Tuesday of causing death by negligence and transporting illegal residents. The Haifa District Court acquitted Jamal Mahajma, 47, of being an accessory to murder.

Mahajma, from Umm al-Fahm, drove the bomber to the Maxim restaurant in Haifa, where 21 people were killed.

In the Netanya bombing case, the Shin Bet said Levy, along with Taibeh resident Sif Azam, drove the bomber and another Islamic Jihad man from the West Bank city of Tul Karm into the Israeli Arab town of Taibeh for NIS 1,000. The second Israeli Arab suspect, Abed al-Rahman Abu-Moh, allegedly brought the bomber to Netanya.

The Shin Bet said Levy has admitted to regularly transporting Palestinian workers and car thieves into Israel illegally. He also said he drove the bomber and the second Jihad man into Israel on the day of the bombing, but told security forces he was not aware he was transporting a suicide bomber.

"If he had known that these were terrorists or people on their way to carrying out something against Israeli residents, he would have done everything to give them up to the police," said David Zilberman, Levy's lawyer.

However, Shin Bet investigators said Levy should have suspected his passenger was a suicide bomber, in part because he was carrying the explosives in a large bag.

Azam said he did examine the contents of the bomber's bag and saw a smaller bag in which the explosives were hidden, but believed the passengers when they told him the bag contained burglary tools.

Levy is suspected of bringing the bomber into Israel through an Israel Defense Forces roadblock on the Green Line. His commercial vehicle was not examined because he has an Israeli license plate, the Shin Bet said.

Since the bombing, the IDF has boosted security checks of Israeli vehicles at roadblocks. IDF officials said they were concerned about Israeli citizens' role in helping Palestinians enter Israel illegally.

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