Ringleader in Abu Khdeir murder case convicted in Jerusalem court

Israel/Palestine
on 14 Comments

Today, a Jerusalem district court convicted the ringleader of the 2014 murder of Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir who was abducted near his home in East Jerusalem and burned alive. The defendant, Yosef Haim Ben-David, 30, will be sentenced in the coming weeks. He along with two minors kidnapped Abu Khdeir and beat and killed the youth. The slaying prompted weeks of unrest and gained international prominence as a high-profile case of settler violence against Palestinians. 

Ben-David resided in the West Bank settlement off Adam, prior to carrying out the crime. 

In February two minors involved in the killing were sentenced to a life term and 21 years in prison. Their identities have not been disclosed by state prosecutors, as customary in Israel.

This morning’s verdict comes after a delay. Four months ago a lawyer representing Ben-David filed a late motion to review his client’s mental condition, in a hearing that otherwise would have produced a verdict. Ben-David’s legal affairs are being handled by the Israeli right-wing organization Honenu, a non-profit firm that advocates for soldiers and settlers accused of crimes, according to the group’s website.

Ben-David did not enter a plea of not-guilty by reason of insanity during arraignment. In fact, he refused to enter a plea at all and from the outset of the trial he exhibited erratic behavior.

Ben-David once declared in court that he was the “messiah.” At other hearings he refused to address the judge, and earlier this month he set fire to a jail cell.

The victim’s family speculated the courtroom behavior was staged in an attempt to build a defense against criminal liability.

“We knew from the beginning that he was not crazy but rather a liar. It hurts us very much. The trial lasted too long, this is the 35th hearing. Every time we see him our blood boils,” father of the victim, Hussein Abu Khdeir told the Israeli outlet YNet today after the ruling. 

Ultimately the judge today rejected the physiological evaluation Ben-David’ lawyer had produced.

Initially Ben-David complied with police and presented a coherent demeanor. Following his arrest nearly a month after the murder he made an extensive confession to Israel’s security agency and Jerusalem police detailing preparations he and two accomplices made.

“We were hot and angry, and decided we’d burn something of the Arabs,” Ben-David told police, according to a leaked transcript published by Israel’s Haaretz. “We went to Armon Hanatziv [an East Jerusalem settlement] to try to find an Arab shop to burn, and then we talked and decided to take it up a notch,” he added.

Ben-David even took investigators on a re-enactment tour of the crime across Jerusalem.

For the victim’s family, the trial marks a conclusion of a two year legal battle. Despite three guilty verdicts, Abu Khdeir’s relatives want more. Consistently they have called for the demolition of their son’s murders’ homes, a controversial practice of deterrence Israel carries out against the relatives of Palestinians accused of killing Israelis in violent attacks.

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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14 Responses

  1. Kay24
    April 19, 2016, 2:07 pm

    I wonder what the sentence will be…..2 months in jail, a pat on the back, and a heroes welcome by the community?

  2. Bumblebye
    April 19, 2016, 5:13 pm

    Good. Hope he gets a damn long sentence.

    There’s just been a rally for the uniformed murderer, at which a sign in English reading “Kill Them All” was held aloft:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/yarivop/status/722467654942990336

  3. JLewisDickerson
    April 19, 2016, 7:23 pm

    RE: “For the victim’s family, the trial marks a conclusion of a two year legal battle. Despite three guilty verdicts, Abu Khdeir’s relatives want more. Consistently they have called for the demolition of their son’s murders’ homes, a controversial practice of deterrence Israel carries out against the relatives of Palestinians accused of killing Israelis in violent attacks.” ~ Deger

    MY SNARKCASM: Israel needs an Equal Rights Amendment. Unfortunately, they don’t really have a constitution to amend! ! !

    Israel failed to take advantage of its best opportunity to “guarantee” basic rights to its citizens when it pretty much blew off the commitment made in its declaration of independence to formulate and adopt a formal constitution no later than 1 October 1948. Israel was admitted to the UN (arguably conditionally) based upon this commitment to adopt a formal constitution no later than 1 October 1948 (which Israel didn’t even try to fulfill, since Ben Gurion was opposed to adopting a constitution at that time.)

    Although some constitutional provisions are contained in Basic Laws passed by Israel’s Knesset, there is no clear rule determining the precedence of Basic Rules over regular legislation, and in many cases this issue is left to the interpretation of the judicial system.

    • JLewisDickerson
      April 19, 2016, 7:36 pm

      P.S. Hence, Israel is coup-ready/friendly!!!

      • JLewisDickerson
        April 19, 2016, 7:47 pm

        P.P.S. Not that a constitution stands in the way of the U.S. effectuating coups in Central and South America when a democratically elected government turns out to be a tad too leftist (for the likes of Hillary Clinton, John Negroponte, Elliott Abrams, etc.).

      • yonah fredman
        April 20, 2016, 1:47 am

        The lack of a constitution is tragic and another indication of Ben Gurion’s style of personal power and extemporaneousness. The knesset and the vote for the knesset is firmly established by tradition, but the power of the judiciary is far shakier than it would be if there were a constitution. The coup that you are referring to is farfetched unless you mean the generals who forced eshkol to fight the 6 day war. Imagination might lead to the idea of a general or chief of staff rebelling against a prime minister unwilling to comply with a diktat of the US or UN, but it’s farfetched.

      • bryan
        April 20, 2016, 5:48 am

        yonah – “Imagination might lead to the idea of a general or chief of staff rebelling against a prime minister unwilling to comply with a diktat of the US or UN, but it’s farfetched.”

        Agree entirely. Remember Israel is unlike others in being “an army with a state” not “a state with an army”. With few exceptions (Eshkol you mention, and Sharrett) Israeli leaders have often been military men, or men like Netanyahu, totally in awe of elder brothers who were military men. Dayan in ’67 is regarded as having unified the military against civilian voices in a virtual coup, but also the army is professional enough to know that it needs a civilian front, that its voice already dominates that civilian front, and that the top brass contains enough diversity of approach that overt intervention in politics is unnecessary and could be self-destructive.

        I cannot however agree with your other point that “The lack of a constitution is tragic and another indication of Ben Gurion’s style of personal power and extemporaneousness” Ben Gurion fully understood that the Declaration of Independence was nothing more than window dressing and that any definition of a Constitution would entail grappling with huge issues of the divide between the secular and the religious – therefore let sleeping dogs lie, in an eternal “status quo”. The leadership was overwhelmingly secular and despised religious Judaism, but the very survival of secular state power required a deeply religious camouflage which would enable both the Jewish diaspora and Judeophile Christian Zionism to provide support and funding for the enterprise. Better to leave the relationship between the two as ill-defined as possible.

      • JLewisDickerson
        April 20, 2016, 11:40 am

        RE: “Remember Israel is unlike others in being ‘an army with a state’ not ‘a state with an army’.” ~ bryan

        ❤ “Where some states have an army, the Prussian Army has a state!” – Voltaire
        “…it was Sparta in the morning, Athens in the afternoon.” – Voltaire describing Prussia under Frederick II the Great
        SIURCE ~ http://forums.totalwar.org/vb/showthread.php?112738-18th-Century-military-quotes-what-can-you-find-!&p=2138626&viewfull=1#post2138626

        ❤ Voltaire remarked “While most states have an army the Prussian army has a state”. How far does Prussian militarism explain why Germany took a ‘special path’ as suggested by Sonderweg Theory? ~ https://prezi.com/s3rffdcsg9fa/voltaire-remarked-while-most-states-have-an-army-the-prussian-army-has-a-state-how-far-does-prussian-militarism-explain-why-germany-took-a-special-path-as-suggested-by-sonderweg-theory/

        ❤ “Hair powder is not gunpowder, curls are not cannons,
        a queue is not a sword, and I am not a German…” – Suvorov to Tsar (Paul [Paul I of Russia ~ J.L.D.] I had a serious Prussia fetish and was essentially trying to turn the Russian army into the Prussian one ~ http://forums.totalwar.org/vb/showthread.php?112738-18th-Century-military-quotes-what-can-you-find-!&p=2136619&viewfull=1#post2136619

        ❤ Frederick the Great’s typology of officers provides a hint of how one might best think about the issue of military competence. The Prussian king suggested that there were four types of officers. First were the brilliant but lazy. He suggested such officers had the attributes to function at the highest levels of command.
        Second were the brilliant, but diligent. They made the best staff officers. Third were the less intelligent but lazy. They made good battalion officers. Finally, there were the less intelligent and the diligent. They were the most dangerous to the proper functioning of any military organization, in both peace and war, because of their penchant for confusing process and work for product. ~ http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/02/28/clever-lazy/

        ❤ From: [email protected]
        List Editor: JS Russell
        Editor’s Subject: REPLY: Source of quote “…an army which possesses a state”
        Author’s Subject: REPLY: Source of quote “…an army which possesses a state”
        Date Written: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 10:11:40 -0600
        Date Posted: Mon, 12 Jul 2009 20:08:18 -0400

        Will O’Neil asked: “It is said that “Other states possess an army; Prussia is
        an army which possesses a state” — but said by whom first? I have seen it
        attributed (in slightly different wording) to Voltaire and to one or
        another of the brothers Mirabeau.”

        Will, that is a tough one. The quote sometimes also says “The Prussian army is
        a state within a state.”

        Because the sentence is so wrong but the writings of Count Mirabeau are
        otherwise pretty smart we took it once up in a discussion with other experts in
        Early Modern Times many, many years ago. Quite a few of them were military
        Historians.
        One had read all the writings of Mirabeau in German and claimed that the quote
        never shows up anywhere. This was some months later confirmed by another
        historian.

        It is important to know, though, that most of the writings about military
        matters were not done by the Count himself but by an officer accompanying him
        on his travels through Europe. Mirabeau seems not to have bothered to give him
        credit for his contributions. My papers about all that, however, are still in
        Germany so I can’t help you out with his name.

        I have read a vast amount about the Old Prussian Army – literature and primary
        sources – and this sentence is quoted exceedingly often. As a “source” it
        either says “Count Mirabeau” or “attributed to Count Mirabeau”. I have not once
        seen a precise location given for the quote.

        I don’t recall ever seeing the quote being attributed to Voltaire.

        My guess would be that the quotation – if it is not entirely made up – might be
        found in the correspondence of the officer who accompanied Mirabeau.

        Hope that helps.

        Joerg Muth

        P.S. ❤❤❤ “When in doubt as to who first first uttered a famous quotation, just attribute it to Groucho!” ~ me (just now, at this very moment)

      • JLewisDickerson
        April 20, 2016, 12:01 pm

        P.S. Goddammit, I loathe Windows, I.E. and Microsoft!
        I fully expect Google Chromebooks and Chromeboxes to entirely take over the home computer market within 5-10 years.

        ❤ From: [email protected] List Editor:
        JS Russell Editor’s Subject:
        REPLY: Source of quote “…an army which possesses a state”
        Author’s Subject:
        REPLY: Source of quote “…an army which possesses a state”
        Date Written: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 10:11:40 -0600
        Date Posted: Mon, 12 Jul 2009 20:08:18 -0400

        Will O’Neil asked: “It is said that “Other states possess an army; Prussia isan army which possesses a state” — but said by whom first? I have seen it attributed (in slightly different wording) to Voltaire and to one oranother of the brothers Mirabeau.”

        Will, that is a tough one. The quote sometimes also says “The Prussian army is a state within a state.”

        Because the sentence is so wrong but the writings of Count Mirabeauare are otherwise pretty smart we took it once up in a discussion with other experts inEarly Modern Times many, many years ago. Quite a few of them were militaryHistorians.
        One had read all the writings of Mirabeau in German and claimed that the quotenever shows up anywhere. This was some months later confirmed by another historian.

        It is important to know, though, that most of the writings about military matters were not done by the Count himself but by an officer accompanying himon his travels through Europe. Mirabeau seems not to have bothered to give himcredit for his contributions. My papers about all that, however, are still inGermany so I can’t help you out with his name.

        I have read a vast amount about the Old Prussian Army – literature and primary sources – and this sentence is quoted exceedingly often. As a “source” it either says “Count Mirabeau” or “attributed to Count Mirabeau”. I have not onceseen a precise location given for the quote.

        I don’t recall ever seeing the quote being attributed to Voltaire.

        My guess would be that the quotation – if it is not entirely made up – might be found in the correspondence of the officer who accompanied Mirabeau.

        Hope that helps.

        Joerg Muth

        SOURCE – http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=H-War&month=0907&week=b&msg=fB4vd1ZikUOS9D6ySOmO5Q

      • JLewisDickerson
        April 20, 2016, 12:12 pm

        P.S. ❤ ❤ ❤ “When in doubt as to who first first uttered a famous quotation, just attribute it to Groucho!” ~ me (just now, at this very moment) – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/04/ringleader-in-abu-khdeir-murder-case-convicted-in-jerusalem-court/#comment-835784

      • lysias
        April 21, 2016, 3:24 pm

        It was the size of this army that moved Georg Heinrich Berenhorst, an adjutant to Frederick II during the Seven Years War, to make the memorable observation that ‘the Prussian monarchy is not a country which has an army, but an army which has a country, in which – as it were – it is just stationed.’

        https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/27rzsy/was_prussiagermany_really_that_militaristic/

  4. oldgeezer
    April 19, 2016, 7:36 pm

    Meanwhile NuttynYahoo, Prime Minister of a tiny Middle Eastern state known as Israel which decries terrorism in all forms attended a celebration of the 85th annicersary of the founding of the irgun.

    Israel is currently suffering from a rash of equipment malfunctions resulting the accidental killing of unarmed captives and the inability for medical personnel to attend to wounded individuals (not of the correct ethnic persuasion) to bleed out on the ground.

    It is rumoured that in a private conversation the Prime Minister, who just recently announced his countries intention to keep land belonging to Syria in contravention of international law, said that he just didn’t know where groups like daesh got the idea that you could create a country through terrorism, war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, erasing other peoples heritage and somehow have it considered to be a normal legitimate state. Especially when the founding principle is based on the racist principle of the supremacy of a particular ethnic/religious group. Ok … He didn’t say that. He should think about it.

  5. amigo
    April 20, 2016, 1:16 pm

    Gag order placed on investigation of alleged terrorist suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem .

    This story seems to have gone into hibernation.One would have thought that a suicide bombing in Israel –being the first one for over ten years would be front page news for weeks.Instead it has , curiously faded into the background.

    Very strange.

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.715379

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