Two Decades After Ramallah Lynching, Two Palestinians Involved Receive Harsher Sentences

After drawn-out legal proceedings, Yasser Hatab and Marwan Maadi's sentences have been significantly increased for their roles in the murder of two Israeli soldiers who mistakenly drove into Ramallah in 2000

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Aziz Salaha, a Palestinian man, shows his hands wet with the Israeli soldiers' blood in the police station in Ramallah, in October 2000.
Aziz Salaha, a Palestinian man, shows his hands wet with the Israeli soldiers' blood in the police station in Ramallah, in October 2000. Credit: AFP

An Israeli military court increased last week the sentences of two Palestinians convicted of participating in the West Bank mob that beat two Israeli soldiers to death and mutilated their bodies in 2000.

The Ofer Military Court increased Yasser Hatab's sentence from 40 years to two life terms, and Marwan Maadi's from eight to 22 years. The initial court proceedings against the two were lengthy; at the end they were both convicted of less serious crimes than of which they were charged. The military prosecution appealed the ruling, further delaying a final verdict, which was only issued a few months ago. Following this, they were given new sentences.

Their case concerns the notorious Ramallah lynching: Israeli reservists Vadim Norzhich and Yosef Avrahami mistakenly drove their car into Ramallah in October 2000, shortly after the outbreak of the second intifada. They were then arrested by Palestinian security forces. A Palestinian mob stormed the police station where they were being held, beat the two to death, mutilated them and displayed their bodies.

For his participation, Yasser Hatab was indicted in 2012 and convicted on two counts of manslaughter, to which he confessed in a plea deal; following the appeal, he was indicted for voluntary manslaughter in the killing of the two soldiers. He had been present at the scene for the entirety of the lynching, but did not take part in the beating of Norzhich. In addition to the two life sentences, he has been ordered to pay 200,000 shekels (about $61,500) to the victims' families.

Maadi, who was also indicted in 2012, was among the first members of the mob to break through the gates of the police station where the soldiers were being held. According to the most recent indictment, he punched Norzhich at a certain point during the violence, and then left the scene. He was also ordered to pay 50,000 shekels (about $15,380) to the victims' families.

During Maadi's sentencing, the judges took into account the fact that he was nearing the end of his sentence and was soon to be released, and that the appeals court decision on his case took a very long time, to the point of a delay of justice. In light of this, he was handed a relatively lighter sentence for the crime.