Two Israelis get long jail terms for murder of Palestinian

Two Israeli teenagers get long jail terms over burning and murdering Palestinian teenager

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

A file photo shows Mohammed Abu Khudair, 16, in an undated family handout picture released July 6, 2014

An Israeli court on Thursday sentenced two Israeli settlers, one for life and the other for 21 years, for brutally killing a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem that helped trigger the 2014 Gaza war.

The two teenage defendants, whose names cannot be published due to their age, and an adult man considered to be the main suspect of the murder, were found guilty in November of the abduction, torturing and burning of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir.

Prosecutors said all of the accused had confessed to burning him to death in a forest on July 2, 2014 eighteen days after three Israeli settlers were found dead after being lost on June 12 in the occupied West Bank.

The adult defendant in the case, Yosef Haim Ben-David, submitted an insanity plea that delayed his formal conviction and sentencing. A court review of his psychological competence is set for next week.

Abu Khdeir's father, Hussein, told reporters that the family expected the youngest defendant to get a life prison term too.

"If there is no apartheid or racism (in Israel), you will have to do this," Abu Khdeir said, adding that the family would appeal to the Supreme Court.

The state had sought life prison terms for both teenagers.

Those jailed for a life term in Israel can be offered parole for their good behaviour after serving two-thirds of their sentence, which can open the way for a reduced sentence of 25 years.

Suha, mother of Palestinian youth, Mohammed Abu Khudair reacts after hearing the verdict for her son's murderers at the Jerusalem District Court, February 4, 2016 [Reuters]

Avi Himi, attorney of the younger teenager, said he would advise his client to appeal.

"I believe the minor did take part in the incident but not in the actual murder and should therefore have been acquitted of the murder charge," he said.

Three days after the brutal killing of Khdeir, his 15-year-old Palestinian-American cousin, Tarek Abu Khdeir, was beaten and detained by Israeli police in an assault caught on camera. After all, he was allowed to return to the United States.

In July and August 2014, Israel launched the 51-day “Operation Protective Edge” in Gaza Strip and killed more than 2,100 people, mostly women and children and injured another 11,000. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed.

Tensions have raised again among the two sides since September 2015 after the Israeli Army once again entered the Al Aqsa compound in occupied East Jerusalem and attacked Muslim worshippers while vandalising the holy mosque.

As of October 1 at least 164 Palestinians, including many children, have been killed by Israeli forces while 25 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean have also been killed.

TRTWorld and agencies