Jerusalem Court Due to Issue Verdict in Abu Khdeir Murder Case

Three Israelis, two of them minors, are accused of abducting, beating and burning alive the Arab youth Mohammed Abu Khdeir in July 2014.

Emil Salman

The Jerusalem District Court is due to hand down its verdict on Monday against the three Israelis charged with killing Palestinian youth Muhammad Abu Khdeir in July 2014.

Abu Khdeir, 16, was abducted in the early hours of July 2, 2014 from the Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Shuafat, close to his home. He was driven to the Jerusalem Forest, where he was beaten and burned alive by his kidnappers. The state has officially recognized him as a victim of terror.

Three Israeli Jews are standing trial for the murder – Yosef Haim Ben-David, 31, and two minors who haven't been named. Both minors blamed Ben-David for planning the murder of Abu Khdeir and exerting heavy pressure on them to participate.

Ben-David refused to defend himself throughout the trial and his attorney argued that he wasn't responsible for his actions. However no psychiatric evaluation to that effect was submitted to the court.

The three, who were apprehended several days after the death of Abu Khdeir, confessed to the crime and reenacted it.

Mohammed Abu Khdeir, selfie, date unknown, published July 7, 2014.

The prosecution summed up its case by saying that Ben-David was responsible for his actions and fit to stand trial. The court saw evidence, including videos, showing Ben-David alert and fully aware of what was happening.

The accused told the court during the course of the trial that the murder of Abu Khdeir was in revenge for the abduction and murder of three young Israelis in Gush Etzion shortly before they abducted Abu Khdeir.

The two minors attempted to minimize their roles in the murder and place most of the blame on Ben-David. The accused Ben-David of giving them pills and energy drinks in the hours before the murder.

Defendant A, one of the minors, claimed that he was not involved in the actual murder and had remained in the car while it took place.

"He has repeatedly said that Ben-David did it alone," according to his attorney. "He acknowledges that they abducted [Abu Khdeir] but he had no idea it would end in murder."

The prosecution, however, maintained that both minors had committed the deeds of their own volition, pointing to statements they made during questioning to back up his contention.

"The picture arising from the evidence is that Defendant B. was excited by the revenge action and insisted that he and his co-defendants carry it out as planned," he said.

Abu Khdeir's parents attended every court session and expressed regular dissatisfaction with the lengthy delays in the legal process.

"Why haven't they demolished the homes of these three murderers," Hussein Abu Khdeir, the youth's father, asked at the last court session. "If they were Arabs, their homes would have been demolished immediately. Because they burned my son alive, people today are stabbing."