Nadav Sela, a resident of the Galilee community of Migdal, was found guilty on Wednesday by the Nazareth District Court of murdering his wife, their two children and the neighbor’s son last year. The three-judge panel sentenced him to four consecutive life sentences for the murders and an additional 10 years for attempted murder. The court also ordered Sela to pay 1,132,000 shekels (about $316,360) to the victims' families.
The judges rejected defense arguments regarding Sela’s mental state as well as the claim that no motive for the crimes had been proven. According to the indictment, Sela stabbed his wife, Dor Sela (née Karsenti, 23; their 8-month-old son Benjamin; their 22-month-old son Yosef; and two brothers who lived nearby – Nahman Atia, 11, and Natan Attia, 10, whom Sela had allegedly invited to his home. Natan was wounded but managed to escape, but his brother died of his injuries.
Sela allegedly continued to stab the victims as they pleaded for their lives and did not stop until he was confident they were dead. He was arrested shortly afterwards near Migdal and did not deny killing his wife and children, reportedly muttering to the police that they had been “Amaleks,” a biblical reference to the Jews’ arch-enemy. He repeated the statement in court, and offered no explanation for his acts. Police learned, however, that days prior to the killings, he had apologized to several people in Migdal for all sorts of matters, allegedly to cleanse himself of his deeds.
Alcohol and drugs tests on Sela came back negative, but he was found to have made major use of light drugs in the past. A psychiatric evaluation found him fit to stand trial.
With regard to the absence of proof of a motive, the judges noted that perpetrators do not always share their reasoning. “With his own hands, he slaughtered his whole family and went on to harm the sons of the neighbors.... Naturally, one seeks a motive. But when it comes to family relationships, which are protracted and intimate, tensions may be involved that are not obvious around him,” the judges wrote in their decision.
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In court, Ravit Sebag, the defendant’s mother-in-law, related that she was informed by phone about what had happened. On going to her daughter’s home, she said through the window, she could see her grandson Yosef’s body on a couch, covered in blood. “The sight of Yosef, although I only saw him for a fraction of a second, never leaves my eyes,” she testified.
“It keeps me from sleeping at night. It is a source of nightmares. The family has been destroyed. At age 42, I became a grandmother. At age 44, my life has been ruined.”
“I cry all the time. I live without light. I ask the court that the defendant never see light again either. He should get the most severe punishment possible,” she said.