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2 Israelis convicted for 2014 killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir

Nov. 30, 2015 10:52 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 1, 2015 10:40 A.M.)
Father and mother of Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir pray at his grave in Shuafat, in occupied East Jerusalem, in July 2015. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel's Jerusalem District Court on Monday convicted two Israelis for the murder of Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir last summer, with a third suspect who admitted to the killing escaping conviction on the grounds of his mental health.

The conviction of 31-year-old Yosef Ben David, the ringleader of the gang that kidnapped, assaulted, and burned Muhammad, 16, to death, was suspended to allow for a last minute psychiatric evaluation, Israeli news site Haaretz reported.

His lawyer submitted an evaluation last week declaring that he was not responsible for his actions at the time of the murder.

The two Israeli youths found guilty will be sentenced on Jan. 13, according to the AFP news agency, while another hearing for Ben David was set for Dec. 20.

Following the ruling, Abu Khdeir's father Hussein told Ma'an: “I will not accept less than a lifetime prison sentence and demand to demolish their houses”

He added:“I don’t believe in the Israeli judiciary, and I want to see if they will be fair or not. We will go to the International Criminal Court if the Israeli court mitigates their sentence."

All three suspects confessed to the murder during questioning by Israeli police, admitting to beating the Palestinian teenager unconscious before pouring flammable liquid on him and burning him alive.

The suspects said it was revenge for the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers.

The group drove around for hours to find a suitable victim before kidnapping Abu Khdeir at 4 a.m. after he had decided to pray at the mosque in the Shufat neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

They took him to a forest on the outskirts of Jerusalem and hit the teenager with a crowbar while shouting "this is for the Fogel family" and "this is for Gilad, Naphtali and Eyal," Israeli news site Ynet reported.

They set fire to him and then fled the scene.

The grisly murder sparked shock, disgust and an outpouring of condemnation from both Israeli and Palestinian leaders at the time.

The June 2014 abduction of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach from a hitchhiking stop near Hebron sparked a vast Israeli search operation targeting Hamas, who denied involvement in the killings, in which hundreds of Palestinians were arrested and at least five killed.

The brutal revenge killing of Abu Khdeir led to widespread demonstrations and clashes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem which was followed by an uptick in rocket fire from Gaza, and the launch on July 8 of a full-scale Israeli military operation against the Mediterranean enclave, which killed over 2,200 Palestinians, including 500 children.
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