JERUSALEM – An Israeli taxi driver has been arrested for allegedly driving a Palestinian suicide bomber to the site of an attack, the first Jew to be accused of assisting a bomber in three years of fighting, the prime minister's office said Monday.
Ofer Shwartzboim, a 39-year-old resident of the West Bank settlement of Oranit (search), gave the bomber and an accomplice a ride in his taxi to the Geha highway on Dec. 25, the prime minister's office said in a statement.
The statement did not say that Shwartzboim knew that the man in his taxi was a bomber, but it is illegal to assist Palestinians without permits to enter the country. The law is aimed at preventing suicide attacks.
The bomber blew himself up in a bus stop, killing four Israelis.
In the past, Israeli Jews have been convicted of selling arms to Palestinians. But it was the first time a Jew was arrested for helping a bomber carry out an attack since violence erupted in September 2000. Israeli Arabs (search) have been convicted of assisting Palestinian attackers.
Shwartzboim was arrested on Jan. 8, the statement said, and confessed to driving the bomber and his accomplice to the Geha highway.
Shwartzboim said the bomber's accomplice had called him and asked for a ride from the nearby Arab-Israeli town of Kfar Kassem (search) to the bus stop. During the short ride, the men told Shwartzboim they were going to get money from an employer and did not have permits to be in the country, the statement said.
The bomber and his accomplice paid Shwartzboim $22 for the ride, the statement said. It did not say how the men had entered Israel.
Shwartzboim told interrogators he often drove illegal Palestinian workers into Israel, even though he was aware he could be assisting potential attackers, the statement said.
In the past, an Israeli court sentenced an Israeli Arab to 10 years in prison for driving a bomber to an attack site.