IDF Court Gives Palestinian Five Life Sentences for Itamar Murders

Judges contemplated whether to impose death penalty on Amjad Awad, 19, who killed five members of Fogel family in 2011.

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

An Israel Defense Forces court sentenced a Palestinian man to five life sentences on Monday, after he was convicted of murdering five members of the Fogel family in the West Bank settlement of Itamar in 2011.

Amjad Awad, a 19-year-old student, carried out the crime with his cousin, Hakim Awad, who was already sentenced to five consecutive life sentences in October 2011.

Amjad Awad and Hakim Awad, with the crime scene in the background.

The judges' panel contemplated whether to give Awad the death penalty, saying the youth "doesn't have a fragment of regret in his heart." However, ultimately the judges said that despite the horrid acts he carried out, they decided not to sentence him to a harsher punishment than the one the military prosecution had requested.

The Fogel family members were brutally stabbed to death in their home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar on the night of March 11, 2011. The murderers killed Ehud and Ruth Fogel, along with three of their young child-ren, Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and Hadas, 3 months old, before fleeing the scene.

Both Amjad and Hakim Awad confessed to the murder, and the military prosecution in the case said there is forensic evidence linking them to the scene of the crime, including DNA samples and fingerprints.

Amjad Awad at the Samaria military court, January 16, 2012.Credit: Moti Milrod

While the cousins, and many of their family members, were linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, investigators found no evidence indicating that the attack was directed by the PFLP, leading security officials to conclude that they planned the assault alone.

A probe into the attack led officials to believe that the two decided on it mere hours before executing their plan.

They left their home in Awarta at around 9 P.M. on Friday night, bearing knives and a wire cutter, taking 10 minutes to cross the distance from their village to neighboring Itamar.

The two men scaled Itamar's security fence undetected, proceeding another 400 meters into the settlement, and proceeding to break into the house next to that of the Fogel family, which turned out to be empty. The two stole an M-16 assault rifle, a clip, a military vest, and a helmet from the neighboring house, and approached the Fogel home.

They noticed the children Yoav, 11, and Elad, 4, through the window, and stabbed them to death as they entered the house. At that point the two proceeded to the bedroom of parents Udi and Ruth, who struggled with their assailants until Udi was stabbed to death and Ruth was shot using the stolen rifle.

At first, the killers failed to notice 3-month-old baby Hadas, who had been sleeping in her parents' bed, and left the house, fearing the shootings would alert security forces.

However, after a few moments outside, Hakim and Amjad Awad understood that they had yet to be detected, with Amjad coming back into the house in order to steal another rifle.

As he entered the parents' bedroom, he noticed baby Hadas and stabbed her to death. Only as he was leaving did the Palestinian man see that there were other children in the house, but chose to leave anyway, thus sparing the lives of Roi, 8, and Yishai, 2.

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