Florida Jewish man gets 10 years for planting bomb aimed at Peres

NEW YORK, June 25 (JTA) — An Orthodox man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for planting a bomb at a Florida synagogue where Shimon Peres was scheduled to speak. Harry Shapiro, 31, planted a pipe bomb in the Jacksonville Jewish Center, a Conservative synagogue, in February in the hopes of preventing a speech by the former Israeli prime minister. Addressing the court where he was sentenced Tuesday, Shapiro, a former butcher, apologized for his actions, but added that Peres’ punishment “will come from heaven and no man should or will be a part of it.” Shapiro also apologized to the Jacksonville Jewish community for taking away its sense of security in the local synagogues. Synagogue officials declined to speak about the incident or the sentencing, but the Jewish center rabbi, David Gaffney, told a local newspaper that he hopes Shapiro gets the medical attention he needs. On Feb. 13, just hours before Peres was scheduled to speak at the synagogue, Shapiro phoned police and told them he had planted two bombs in the synagogue. Using bomb-sniffing dogs, police searched the premises, but did not find any bombs. Peres’ speech went on as planned. The bomb was discovered only several days later by children playing at the synagogue. The police evacuated the synagogue and defused the bomb. Shapiro turned himself into police two days later. He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in March. At the time, his defense attorney claimed that Shapiro had made an inoperable bomb and had not intended to harm anyone. He said that Shapiro, who took issue with Peres’ political views, simply wanted to stop the former premier from speaking. Shapiro received the maximum sentence for using an explosive to threaten a foreign official and guest of the United States. By pleading guilty, Shapiro avoided additional charges that could have sent him to prison for an additional 30 years.

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