Palestinian Behind Kidnap, Murder of 3 Israeli Teens Gets 3 Life Sentences

Hussam Qawasmeh confessed to planning kidnapping, murder of Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah, in the West Bank in June.

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Hussam Qawasmeh at Ofer military court near the West Bank city of Ramallah January 6, 2015.Credit: Reuters
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

A Palestinian who confessed to planning the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June was sentenced by an Israeli military court on Tuesday to three life sentences.

Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaer, and the car in which they were taken.

Hussam Qawasmeh was also ordered to pay $63,000 (250,000 shekels) to the families of the teens, Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah.

Last month, Qawasmeh was convicted of three counts of accessory to premeditated manslaughter, as well as membership in a group that committed intentional manslaughter, two counts of bringing enemy funds into the country, one count of carrying out activities for Hamas, one count of arms dealing, two counts of obstruction of justice, and one count of sheltering wanted individuals.

Qawasmeh, a 40-year-old resident of the West Bank city of Hebron, was arrested on July 11 in connection with the murder of the boys, who went missing on June 12 and were discovered dead a couple of weeks later.

Before reading the sentence, the judge said: "This is one of the most severe cases of kidnap and murder, and it had a great impact on the security situation. For achieving their despicable goal, they [the perpetrators] were willing to kidnap even young boys, and were drunk with power in their actions. They proved human life was worthless to them. The boys were kidnapped for being Jewish.

"The accused left indescribable damage in his wake, and changed the lives of three families, mothers and fathers who lost their sons. Direct harm was caused to society as a whole, and, on the security arena, led to a wave of arrests and changed the security situation. The kidnapping was like an earthquake which shook the region. The kidnapping's aim was to bring about the release of prisoners, but caused huge damage to society. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed."

Qawasmeh admitted to planning the attack, along with Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisheh, and funding it with roughly 200,000 shekels he received from his brother in Gaza, who was deported to the Strip as part of the deal that released kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Since then, the brother in Gaza began working for Hamas.

Qawasmeh also admitted to procuring weapons and giving them to Marwan Qawasmeh to use in the attack, and later aiding Marwan in burying the boys’ bodies, as well as destroying other evidence of the attack. Qawasmeh also aided Marwan and Abu Aisheh in evading law enforcement officials by providing them with food and water.

In September Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisheh were killed in a firefight with Israeli forces in Hebron. A month earlier, the Israel Defense Forces destroyed the homes of Hussam Qawasmeh and Abu Aisheh and sealed up the home of Marwan Qawasmeh.

Hussam Qawasmeh in military court when he was indicted in September. Credit: Emil Salman