Abu Khdeir Murderer Sentenced to Life Imprisonment Plus 20 Years

Yosef Chaim Ben-David, along with two underage accomplices, kidnapped 16-year-old Palestinian from near his home, drove him to the Jerusalem Forest and burned him alive in 2014.

Yosef Chaim Ben-David, the primary suspect in the murder of Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu-Khdeir, is led into a Jerusalem court, Israel, April 19, 2016.
Yosef Chaim Ben-David, the primary perpetrator in the murder of Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu-Khdeir, is led into a Jerusalem court, Israel, April 19, 2016. Olivier Fitoussi

The main perpetrator in the murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir in July 2014 was sentenced to life in prison and an additional 20 years on Tuesday. 

Yosef Chaim Ben-David, along with two accomplices, both minors, abducted 16-year-old Abu Khdeir early on July 2, 2014, from the Jerusalem Arab neighborhood Shoafat, near his home. He was driven to the Jerusalem Forest, where he was beaten and burned alive by his kidnappers. The state has officially recognized him as a victim of terror.

He was convicted on charges of murder, kidnapping for the purpose of murder, and battery causing bodily harm in April, after the court rejected his insanity plea. His two accomplices were also convicted of murder. One was sentenced to life in prison and the other to 21 years in prison. Each minor was also forced to pay the Abu Khdeir family 30,000 shekels ($7,700) in compensation.

Before his sentence was delivered, Ben-David sought to apologize for his crime in court, after an attorney from the prosecution noted that he hadn't expressed remorse. "I apologize for what happened," Ben-David told the court. "I used to work for Zaka and attended to both Jewish and Arab bodies. I always considered the human image and respect for the dead to be holy. I ask forgiveness of the family for all that happened." 

The Jerusalem District prosecution said that Ben-David had pressured the two minors into committing the abduction and murder of an innocent teen. He added that Ben-David "committed inconceivable and repulsive acts."

"The defendant committed the barbaric acts, motivated by revenge," said the prosecutor. "Revenge for who? For the family of the kidnapped [teens] who said that they didn't want revenge?" he said, referring to the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teens in the West Bank that preceded the Abu Khdeir murder. He added that Ben-David faked a mental illness, attempted to place the blame for the crime on his accomplices, the two minors.

In addition to his jailed time, Ben-David was ordered to pay 150,000 shekels in reparations to the Abu Khdeir family and another 20,000 shekels to the Zualem family, whose son Ben-David tried to abduct with another convicted accomplice one night before the murder of Abu Khdeir. 

The judges rejected the defense's request to lighten Ben-David's sentence, noting that while he had received medication and was in psychiatric care, his doctors had determined that he was not psychotic and that his condition had no effect on his ability to live a normal life or his decision making capacity.