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December 1, 2015

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Duo convicted for killing Palestinian boy

A Jerusalem court yesterday convicted two Israeli youths in the grisly killing of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy whose slaying played into a chain of events that led to last year’s Gaza war. The court at the same time delayed the verdict for the third and chief suspect in the case due to a last-minute insanity plea, sparking claims that Israel is too lenient with Jewish assailants.

The court found the two Israeli minors guilty of killing Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was burned to death in early July 2014. Their names were not released under Israeli law. The sentencing of the two is expected in mid-January.

The delaying of the verdict for the third suspect, ringleader Yosef Haim Ben David, 31, infuriated many Palestinians, who contend that Israel is too lenient on Jewish offenders while dealing harshly with Palestinian.

In his ruling, Judge Jacob Zaban determined that Ben David and the two minors snatched Abu Khdeir off an east Jerusalem sidewalk in July 2014 and burned him alive in a forest west of the city.

The judge found that Ben David drove the car while the two youths beat Abu Khdeir unconscious in the back seat. Once they reached the forest, one accomplice helped Ben David douse Abu Khdeir with gasoline. Then Ben David lit the match, according to Zaban.

The three suspects were arrested shortly after the abduction and confessed to the killing, Israel’s security agency said.

According to the agency, the three said that Abu Khdeir’s slaying was in revenge for the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens by Hamas operatives in the West Bank.

The deaths of the three Israelis triggered an Israeli crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank. Hamas responded with rocket fire on Israel from the Gaza Strip, which it controls. The confrontation evolved into the 50-day war in which more than 2,200 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, were killed, according to UN figures. On the Israeli side, 73 people were killed, most of them soldiers.

Late last week, Ben David’s attorney Asher Ohayon submitted the insanity plea. Zaban said the late timing was “against regular and appropriate protocol,” but said it would be examined.

Hamas condemned what it called an “exoneration” of Ben David, describing him as a Jewish settler who killed Abu Khdeir.


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