A Jerusalem court has handed a life sentence to the main attacker in the killing of a Palestinian teenager in 2014 whose death helped spark a chain of events that led to that year’s Gaza war.
The court sentenced Yosef Haim Ben David, aged 30, to life plus 20 years.
The state prosecutor said the damage he caused Israel and the Palestinian teen’s family is “irreparable.”
Ben David and two accomplices abducted 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir in his east Jerusalem neighbourhood, drove to a forest, and burned him to death.
They said the abduction was revenge for the killing of three abducted Israeli teens by Palestinians earlier that summer. The killing was widely condemned in Israel, but fuelled violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police.
On April 19, despite an eleventh hour insanity plea in December, the Jerusalem District Court convicted Ben David of the murder.
Rejecting the plea, the court wrote that, “at the time of the perpetrating of the crime, the accused was not psychotic, understood his actions well, was culpable for his actions, in control of them, had no disturbance in judging reality and had the ability to prevent commission of the crimes”.
In February, the court sentenced two minors who had already been convicted of the murder — one to life and one to 21 years in prison.
At the hearing, Mohammed’s mother wore a pendant containing a picture of her son, and his father said the decision “should have been made a long time ago”.
The boy’s father, Hussein Abu Khdeir, said in April: “We knew that he wasn’t mad. It was all a big lie to get off from the crime which he carried out.
“Even if they sentence him for life, this will never bring Mohammed back again. Our hearts are wounded from what happened.”
Meanwhile, the Israeli military demolished the home of a Palestinian attacker who killed two Israelis in front of their children last year. Ziad Amer, father of suspected killer Zeid, says dozens of Israeli vehicles raided the town of Nablus yesterday and demolished the family’s apartment. He said his appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court against it was rejected.
Israel says it carries out demolition to deter attacks by letting militants know their families will pay a price for their actions. The Palestinians consider it to be a form of collective punishment.
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