Family of US terror victim unmoved by sentencing of accomplice

The family of a US citizen killed during a stabbing spree in Jaffa last March was unenthusiastic about the December sentencing of an accomplice of the attacker, saying that the verdict “was probably all that we could expect.”

In December, East Jerusalem resident Muhammed Awieda was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay 18,000 shekels ($4,675) in damages to the family of Taylor Force, a US citizen and Vanderbilt graduate student who was vacationing in Israel when he was fatally stabbed by 22-year-old Bashar Massalha.

Force was a US Army veteran who had done tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He graduated from West Point Military Academy in 2009 and served as a field artillery officer from 2009 to 2014 at Fort Hood.

Awieda was sentenced after reaching a plea deal with the Jerusalem District Court for driving Massalha from the latter’s hometown of Qalqilya to Tel Aviv.

As Massalha had been killed by security forces at the scene of the attack, Awieda was the only living person who could face punishment for Force’s murder.

In response to the ruling, Stuart Force, the father of the victim, told Israel Radio that while he would have liked to see Awieda receive a longer sentence. “The verdict imposed — the two-year sentence — and the fine, was probably all that we could expect under the circumstances and the evidence uncovered,” he said.

Force’s father also spoke about the Taylor Force Act, a bill in the US Senate sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), saying “the funding of the terrorists, both from foreign countries and from the Palestinian authorities, has got to stop.”

The bill, which was introduced last September and is currently under review in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, seeks to “condition assistance to the West Bank and Gaza on steps by the Palestinian Authority to end violence and terrorism against Israeli citizens,” according to the measure’s text.

Stuart Force also referenced the $1 billion class action lawsuit against Facebook, which the Force family is a party to, for the social media giant’s failure to ban the Gaza-based terror group Hamas from its platform, saying the family will donate the money to causes Taylor Force supported if it wins the case.

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