The Jerusalem District Court sentenced the two minors convicted of the July 2014 murder of Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir; one received a life sentence and the other was sentenced to 21 years in prison. Each minor will also be forced to pay the Abu Khdeir family 30,000 shekels (about $7,700) in compensation.
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The minor who received the 21-year prison term was not sentenced to life because the court determined he didn't take part in the actual murder, but only the actions that preceded it. "He is the youngest of the bunch, with potential for rehabilitation," the ruling read. "His actions are also vicious, as he captured the deceased, prevented him from resisting, assisted in strangling him. But nevertheless, he did not take part physically in the last stage that led to his beating and the pouring of fuel or oil on his body."
The court is expected rule in the case of the main defendant, Yosef Chaim Ben David. Although the court convicted Ben David, he pleaded insanity at the last minute, requiring a private psychiatric evaluation.
The victim's killers abducted him near a mosque in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shoafat. They beat and strangled him and later burned him to death in the Jerusalem Forest. The murder sparked a wave of violent demonstrations in East Jerusalem. The three perpetrators were caught several days later, provided admissions to the Shin Bet security service and reenacted the crime.
In the course of their trial, the perpetrators admitted that their acts were in revenge at the kidnapping of three yeshiva Israeli students in the West Bank on June 12, 2014. The three students were later found dead. The cycle of violence culminated later that summer with Operation Protective Edge, the war between the Israeli army and Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip.
In court on Thursday, Abu Khdeir's mother, Suha Abu Khdeir, interrupted when the judges read the sentence. "Where is democracy?" she cried, adding "I will go to the International Court. I will not be silent. I did not get justice for Mohammed. Where is my child's life?"
The victim's father, Hussein Abu Khdeir, said: "This is not an ordinary murder, since Mohammed was burned, we are being burned every day. We are not accepting anything less than a life sentence."
"The acts of the accused are extreme in their seriousness, prompting contempt and shock," the judges stated in their sentencing order. "Two teens who are nearly 17 set upon a younger teen, tied him up, dragged him and together subdued him, pressing on his throat and strangling him for an extended period. They saw and were aware [of the fact that] their victim was fighting for his life and ultimately he was beaten and burned to death."
The judges also noted that, although Ben David, the only adult defendant, was the instigator of the abduction of Abu Khdeir, the two minor defendants enthusiastically joined him and were highly willing participants.
In the course of the trial, the two minors sought to minimize their involvement and place the blame on Ben David. Their lawyers argued that they were highly influenced by Ben David, who applied major pressure on them to assist him in the kidnapping and murder, adding that he had given them pills and energy drinks in the hours prior to the crime.