Chief Suspect Named in Abu Khdeir Murder

Yosef Chaim Ben David is a resident of Adam settlement who owns a shop in Jerusalem selling spectacles. He will plead temporary insanity.

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Mourners carry the body of Muhammad Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem on Friday.
Mourners carry the body of Muhammad Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem on Friday.Credit: AP
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

The identity of the primary suspect in the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir was cleared for publication by Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein on Sunday. According to an indictment issued against Yosef Chaim Ben David, he picked up the other two suspects in his vehicle. The other suspects’ names remain under gag order because they are minors.

According to the document, Ben David drove his vehicle to the scene of the kidnapping in Shoafat, and then to a forest outside of Jerusalem, where he proceeded to hit Abu Khdeir on the head with a wrench, while his accomplices kicked him before dousing him in gasoline and setting him on fire.

Ben David is a resident of the Adam settlement (Geva Binyamin), and owns and operates a small, successful business on Geula Street in Jerusalem, selling spectacles frames. Ben David’s customers say he is a nice man, without any known ties to right-wing extremist organizations. Ben David spent some of his time studying in a yeshiva in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood. The day after he was arrested, Ben David’s father told Haaretz, “Whoever did this was mentally ill.”

Ben David does suffer from the mental condition known as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which is stipulated in the indictment against him. About 18 months ago, he told a psychiatrist who was treating him that he sometimes had thoughts of murdering his baby daughter, and even attempted to do so once by strangulation. He was arrested after admitting this to the psychiatrist, though was released into a rehabilitative program and not charged with any crimes.

A defense lawyer provided for Ben David by Zionist legal aid organization Honenu stated that his defense will be pleading temporary insanity at the time of the murder. This line of defense will be contested by the prosecution, however, due to the intricate planning of the murder.

Yosef Chaim Ben David

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