Life, 21 years jail for Israeli teens who murdered Palestinian youth

Two Israeli teens were sentenced Thursday to life and 21 years in prison respectively for the 2014 murder of a 16-year-old Palestinian that shocked Israelis and Palestinians and contributed to the Gaza war that year.

The pair's names could not be published because they were minors at the time of the crime, although they recently turned 18.

Jerusalem's District Court on November 30 convicted them of the murder and abduction of Muhammad Abu Khdair.

The conviction and sentencing of the main suspect, 31-year-old Yosef Haim Ben-David, who initiated the "revenge killing" and enlisted the help of his two younger relatives, has been delayed.

His defence lawyers have submitted a psychiatric evaluation claiming he could bear no criminal responsibility due to mental problems.  

The three extremists admitted they had sought to avenge the June 2014 abduction and slaying of three Israeli teenagers by Palestinians.

On July 2, 2014, they forced Abu Khdair, 16, who was standing outside his East Jerusalem home, into their car, beat him unconscious, drove to a nearby forest and burnt him to death while he was still breathing. His charred body was found hours later.

Ben-David had planned the crime, while the two others helped him. 

The two younger murderers had been 16 at the time of the slaying, one of them almost 17.

The older of the two was jailed for life and also received an additional three years prison for the earlier attempted abduction of another Palestinian child in East Jerusalem.

The younger received 21 years.

Muhammad Abu Khdair's father Hussein was furious that the youngest murderer did not receive a life sentence and said he would appeal to Israel's supreme court.

"Twenty-one years that is not enough," he told reporters at the court. "Less than life we won't accept."

He also said he was still waiting for the "main murderer" to be convicted and sentenced.

Avi Himi, the lawyer of the younger convicted murderer, said he understood "the feelings of the family, which obviously are right and legitimate," but insisted the sentence was "appropriate."

It took into account the "special difficult personal circumstances" of his client, who suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

One of the judges in the panel of three, Rafi Carmel, agreed the youngest murderer should have received life as well, since the accused had "crossed all lines of the law and morality."

Both teens said they had been spurred on by the older suspect and might not have gone as far as to murder Abu Khdair.

Both have to pay 30,000 Israeli shekels (7,676 dollars) in fines to the victim's family.

The indictment filed last year revealed gruesome details and showed the adult and his two younger relatives had gone on a revenge quest, driving through East Jerusalem during the night to find a victim.

The suspects said their actions were revenge for the shooting dead of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank the previous month.

Israel launched massive searches and arrests in the West Bank to find the three Israeli teenagers, who had disappeared from a West Bank junction on June 12.

Their bodies were found three weeks later in a Palestinian field.

The Israeli searches and arrests sparked rocket attacks that escalated into the 2014 Gaza war.

The rocket fire subsequently escalated with the murder of Abu Khdair.

Last update: Thu, 04/02/2016 - 15:44

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