Ringleader in Abu Khdeir kidnapping and murder given life sentence

Israel/Palestine
on 32 Comments

The lead suspect of a gruesome kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teen two summers ago was sentenced today by a Jerusalem district court to life in prison, plus 20 years for additional crimes, ending a lengthy criminal trial that shook Palestinian communities across Israel and the occupied territory.

On July 2, 2014 Yousef Haim Ben-David, 31, and two underage accomplices burned alive 16-year old Mohammed Abu Khdeir from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat.

After the sentencing was announced the victim’s cousin Ansam Abu Khdeir told Mondoweiss the punishment was not enough, “he deserves more than he got, more than he will get,” she said.

Ben-David gave an apology to the Abu Khdeir family. The Israeli outlet Walla reports he told them, “I ask forgiveness from the family for everything that happened, it wasn’t under my control. It isn’t my personality, and I’m not that kind of person.” 

Yet for the Abu Khdiers, the words were meaningless.

“His apology is not welcomed at all. He didn’t kill a chicken or an animal, he killed a human, he killed Mohammed, burned him alive. Just imagine that? I don’t think you even can,” Ansam Abu Khdier said in a hoarse voice, “I’ve been screaming,” she explained. 

“I feel bad for us, not him. I know that he got a life sentence in prison, but that won’t bring Mohammed back for us.”

The two minors convicted for assisting in the killing were sentenced in February to a life-term, and 21 years in prison.

Yousef Haim Ben-David, lead killer in the Mohammed Abu Khdeir murder case, in court, July 2015. (Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Yousef Haim Ben-David, lead killer in the Mohammed Abu Khdeir murder case, in court, July 2015. (Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The criminal trial against the three murderers lasted more than one year. The Abu Khdeir family consistently appealed throughout the proceedings for ‘eye for an eye’ justice. Regularly after court sessions they told media outlets the killers should be burned alive and their homes razed. While Israel does not have the death penalty, punitive demolitions are practiced on the homes of relatives of Palestinians who kill Israelis in nationalistic attacks, but to-date, this punishment has not been enforced on Israeli killers. State prosecutors did seek the maximum sentence for all three of the defendants.

The murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir

On the morning of the murder the three assailants drove to East Jerusalem around 4am. They found Abu Khdeir alone, sitting on a ledge behind his home as he waited to greet relatives. It was the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and Abu Khdeir was preparing to attend morning prayers at a mosque across the street from his house.

Feigning they were lost and in need of directions, Ben-David and the minor accomplices waved Abu Khdier over to approach their car. With the ruse, the three were able to quickly shove him into the back of their vehicle and speed off. They proceeded to beat Abu Khdeir and poured gasoline down his throat. The victim reportedly struggled throughout, and ultimately was set on fire while still conscious.

His body was dumped in a West Jerusalem field and recovered by police after sunrise.

Ben-David then confessed to the crime days after the murder, telling Israeli police and security agents he wanted to “burn something of the Arabs.”

“We said, ‘They took three of ours, let’s take one of theirs,’ and we decided to pick someone up, to kidnap him, beat him up and throw him out,” Ben-David told investigators.

The killing sparked unrest across Jerusalem with the Abu Khdeir home becoming the flashpoint for clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces. Israeli border police patrolled Shuafat and posted officers outside of the victim’s family home to prevent riots.

More than a dozen members of the Abu Khdeir clan were arrested in the weeks after the killing while protesting.

However, on several occasions, without warning, officers shot tear gas into the Abu Khdier’s courtyard where they were receiving condolences, filling with area with plumes of white smoke.

As a result, the grieving Abu Khdeir family quickly become a symbol of the phenomena of settler violence against Palestinians and tensions between East Jerusalem neighborhood and Israeli police. Their case forced these long-time issues into the mainstream Israeli discourse for a first time.

The slaying took place during heightened tensions in the region. Weeks before three Israelis were abducted and killed by Palestinians from a West Bank settlement bus stop while hitchhiking outside of Bethlehem. Ben-David told investigators that incident inspired him to commit murder. He wanted a Palestinian victim—any Palestinian.

Ben-David’s legal representative filed a psychological evaluation claiming his client was not mentally fit to stand trial. The judge rejected the insanity defense last month.

About Allison Deger

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

Other posts by .


Posted In:

32 Responses

  1. DaBakr
    May 3, 2016, 2:07 pm

    All the comments here that proclaimed there would never be a conviction or ‘justice’ can now complain about israel not having the death penalty as another form of oppression of palestinian rights. imagine how the victims parents will feel if the murderer were freed some years down the road in some hair brained prisoner exchange…. And while a parent’s grief is unimaginable i can only imagine that when they say the life+20 is not enough, they mean only death would satisfy them. welcome to the 1ss …..

    • eljay
      May 3, 2016, 3:06 pm

      || @aBr: All the comments here that proclaimed there would never be a conviction or ‘justice’ can now complain about israel not having the death penalty as another form of oppression of palestinian rights. … ||

      Dunno what all your whining is about but IMO life + 20 is a fair sentence. But I suppose many of your fellow Zio-supremacists will think it’s too harsh a sentence for the mere burning alive of an Aye-rab / Mooslim / Pallywag.

      || … welcome to the 1ss ….. ||

      Unlike the current situation in which – among other things – oppression, occupation, supremacism and the summary execution of non-Jews are all in a day’s work.

    • talknic
      May 3, 2016, 10:26 pm

      @ DaBakr

      “All the comments here that proclaimed there would never be a conviction or ‘justice’ can now complain about israel not having the death penalty “

      Strange. The IDF regularly assassinates Palestinians, without trial, for alleged crimes

      ” imagine how the victims parents will feel if the murderer were freed some years down the road in some hair brained prisoner exchange….”

      A prisoner ‘exchange’. Interesting theory you have there. Israel would ‘exchange’, give the Palestinians, this murderous Israeli scum who was tried in an Israeli court and imprisoned in an Israeli gaol and the Palestinians would give Israel a Palestinian. Sure takes a f*cked up mind to work that one out. Par for the Zionist apologist course tho. Say anything no matter how moronic

      “And while a parent’s grief is unimaginable i can only imagine that when they say the life+20 is not enough, they mean only death would satisfy them.”

      The call for death to all Arabs by marching Israelis is well documented, regardless of whether said Arabs have actually committed any crimes

    • Marnie
      May 4, 2016, 1:15 am

      “And while a parent’s grief is unimaginable i can only imagine that when they say the life+20 is not enough, they mean only death would satisfy them. welcome to the 1ss ….. ”

      You should have stopped after “unimaginable” because it’s the only truth you spoke. Don’t be so shy. You know how much israel loves to kill Palestinians, absolutely love it and can’t seem to get enough of it. How many of your ilk resoundingly agree with the iof’s quick dispatch of so-called terrorists? Not disarm them, like they do in other non-third world countries, but shoot them dead, even after they’re already down for the count. That’s okay with you all though, they’re not even really human, “beasts in human form” someone said. What a hypocrite you are DaBakr, to whine about what you only “imagine” the “other” wants, when its so plainly obvious that’s all israelis want for them. Israelis do a great deal of projecting, which could explain the trigger-happiness of so many of them.

      • DaBakr
        May 8, 2016, 4:21 pm

        @m

        Why should I have “stopped” ? The family said life+20 isn’t enough. Whats enough.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 8, 2016, 4:47 pm

        i oppose the death penalty so i think life + 20 years is enough. you should have stopped right at the beginning because your only intent was to indict everyone here. no one is complaining about israel not having a death penalty because israel routinely kills any palestinian they want whenever they want, so they do have one — just not for jews.

        and no one makes the argument “not having the death penalty as another form of oppression of palestinian rights.”

        you’re spamming. and you got top comment. why not take this opportunity to NOT thrash the family whose son had gas poured down his throat and turned into a human torch. you could have done that down thread. back off.

      • echinococcus
        May 8, 2016, 5:49 pm

        What’s enough?
        Ask them, some of them are still around.
        How about lifting the occupation of all Palestine and doing whatever is now done to war criminals to all Zionist government, military leaders and outside enablers? That’s the first thing people other than stupid Zionists hear with “that is not enough”.

      • DaBakr
        May 8, 2016, 7:22 pm

        I believe in the death penalty in certain circumstances, the murder of khadeir by the adult may be one of them . I don’t know if he is mentally ill but even if he is, his crime was beyond the pale.

        Also…i believe I was the first one to comment so there was no downstream. My comment was to the constant reference to the zionist entity as the epitome of evil yet with no death penalty.

      • jon s
        May 9, 2016, 7:46 am

        DaBakr,
        In fact, Ben-David’s attorneys did try an insanity defense, which the court rejected. They intend to appeal.
        Marnie, “beasts in human form” – “someone said”. Who is the someone? Who are the beasts? Who are not really human? Who says? In short: what are you talking about?

      • eljay
        May 9, 2016, 8:48 am

        || jon s: … Marnie, “beasts in human form” – “someone said”. Who is the someone? Who are the beasts? Who are not really human? Who says? In short: what are you talking about? ||

        Perhaps she means this:

        “[Palestinians] are beasts, they are not human.” — MK Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, Aug 1, 2013. (Hebrew)

      • Kay24
        May 9, 2016, 10:58 am

        Talking about “beasts” apparently the King of the zionists also called his neighbors “beasts”.

        “On February 9, Netanyahu dehumanized non-Israeli Middle Eastern peoples, calling them “wild beasts.” He made the comments in the context of a visit to Israel’s eastern border, where the government is spending billions of dollars to build high-tech barriers that will ultimately envelop the entire country.

        “At the end, in the State of Israel, as I see it, there will be a fence that spans it all,” said Netanyahu. “I’ll be told, ‘this is what you want, to protect the villa?’ The answer is yes. Will we surround all of the State of Israel with fences and barriers? The answer is yes. In the area that we live in, we must defend ourselves against the wild beasts.”

        Then we have an Israeli official who dehumanizes those they occupy.

        “Ben Dahan has made controversial remarks about Palestinians. While discussing the resumption of peace talks in a radio interview in 2013, Ben Dahan said that “To me, they are like animals, they aren’t human.”
        Times of Israel

      • Marnie
        May 9, 2016, 11:27 am

        “Marnie, “beasts in human form” – “someone said”. Who is the someone? Who are the beasts? Who are not really human? Who says? In short: what are you talking about?”

        1) “Ben Dahan and Regev are known as some of the most racist representatives of the Israeli government. Dahan has said Palestinians “are beasts, they are not human,” while Regev called African asylum seekers “a cancer in the body” of Israel.”

        2) “At the end, in the State of Israel, as I see it, there will be a fence that spans it all,” said Netanyahu. “I’ll be told, ‘this is what you want, to protect the villa?’ The answer is yes. Will we surround all of the State of Israel with fences and barriers? The answer is yes. In the area that we live in, we must defend ourselves against the wild beasts.”

        As analyst Nima Shirazi observes, Netanyahu and other Israeli government officials have a long history of comparing non-Israeli peoples to animals, and this “zoomorphic bigotry” has been used throughout history to justify the killing of rival groups.”

        3) “They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.” Ayelet Shaked

        A tad disingenuous but that’s your schtick. Do you get it now? I bet you thought my post was about you.

        (thanks eljay and Kay24 :)

      • eljay
        May 9, 2016, 12:11 pm

        … 2) “At the end, in the State of Israel, as I see it, there will be a fence that spans it all,” said Netanyahu. “I’ll be told, ‘this is what you want, to protect the villa?’ The answer is yes. Will we surround all of the State of Israel with fences and barriers? The answer is yes. …

        Bibi “King of all Jews” says: I will transform Israel into the sturdiest and most magnificient barrel the world has ever seen, and I will fill it with all of the world’s Jews! No harm can befall us once we are all safely together in that barrel! Because…I mean, y’know, that’s what they say about fish in a barrel…that they’re safe from harm…right?

        I find Bibi’s comment to be amusing but, at the same time, I wonder: Why does this guy hate Jews so much?!

      • Mooser
        May 9, 2016, 3:57 pm

        “Marnie, “beasts in human form” – “someone said”. Who is the someone? Who are the beasts? Who are not really human? Who says? In short: what are you talking about?” “Jon s”

        “Jon s”, you don’t need to ask “Marnie” about it. Any Israeli history teacher should know all about Israel’s history of comparing Palestinians to animals. Especially a “long-time activist on the Israeli Left”. Maybe you could find one and ask him.

        And “Jon s”, stay out of the no-leash area.

      • just
        May 9, 2016, 5:33 pm

        Here, jon s~ from Kate’s compilation today. See your brethren characterize the indigenous Palestinians as “animals”:

        “WATCH: A chat with the settler on the street
        Israeli Social TV 8 May — What do the residents of Kedumim, a West Bank settlement, think about their Palestinian neighbors? And about the chances of peace? And about the future of their community? Social TV inquires. [Excerpt: those who came here and ‘taught’ the Arabs worsened relations and caused the situation we are in today is the Israeli Left. They came here and started demonstrating against the settlement and put the idea into the Arabs’ heads] ”
        http://972mag.com/watch-a-chat-with-the-settler-on-the-street/119182/

        – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/05/palestinian-documented-notorious/#comment-166365

    • a blah chick
      May 4, 2016, 1:27 pm

      “And while a parent’s grief is unimaginable i can only imagine that when they say the life+20 is not enough, they mean only death would satisfy them. welcome to the 1ss”

      Wow, you really reached for that one. How about this: that Netanyahu pay a price for stoking the fires of vengeance that led directly to this boy’s murder.

      • DaBakr
        May 9, 2016, 6:44 am

        @abc

        even if i agreed about netanyahu with you i am certain you know that incitement has been flying both ways for many many years. you can try to put an anti-israeli spin on it but…

        if you blame both israeli incitement to violence against innocent israeli arabs as well as blaming israeli incitement for the murderous stabbers of dozens of israelis that have either been successful or foiled you need to do a lot of work and read up on the origins of blame and the human need to attach such to those they can not understand
        W e’ve all felt it, that irresistible urge to point the finger. But new technologies are complicating old moral conundrums about accountability. the need is to ask what blame does for us — why do we need it, when isn’t it enough, and what happens when we try to push past it with forgiveness and mercy? Or possibly what will happen if vengeance, violence and harsh calls for revenge. sweep over the will of the public. ?

        you can believe this is israel or its the palestininian people. it doesn’t matter as you are simply a cheerleader on the sidelines

    • Talkback
      May 5, 2016, 6:44 am

      DaBakr: “All the comments here that proclaimed there would never be a conviction or ‘justice’ …”

      Maybe the commenters overlooked that he wasn’t an Israeli soldier who pee peed in his pants.

      “And while a parent’s grief is unimaginable i can only imagine that when they say the life+20 is not enough, they mean only death would satisfy them. welcome to the 1ss …..”

      Sure, in your delusions only these parents call for retaliation based on the talion principle. How long until you arrive the 1s reality in which some parents call to “kill them all” after one who isn’t even their son has killed one?

    • John O
      May 5, 2016, 8:27 am

      @DaBakr

      “imagine how the victims parents will feel if the murderer were freed some years down the road in some hair brained prisoner exchange…”

      If Ben-David were to feature in a prisoner-exchange, it would be the Israeli government trying to get him released early in exchange for releasing Palestinian prisoners (aka hostages).

      • DaBakr
        May 9, 2016, 6:51 am

        right. cause thats how its always gone down. your lack of imagination and grasp of reality is tenuous

  2. WH
    May 3, 2016, 5:23 pm

    Israel certainly does have the death penalty, just not officially – and only for Palestinians.

    • oldgeezer
      May 4, 2016, 12:42 pm

      @WH

      No. They reserve death/murder for those that don’t go to trial. They torture those that do.

    • Talkback
      May 6, 2016, 8:50 am

      It’s a summary execution, not a death penalty, because there is not trial.

  3. Citizen
    May 3, 2016, 11:01 pm

    And the families were not treated the same.

  4. mariapalestina
    May 4, 2016, 9:31 am

    Has the terrorist’s house been bulldozed yet? His brothers and parents arrested?

    • Kay24
      May 4, 2016, 11:29 am

      Zionist terrorists are God’s chosen who are above ALL laws, and can get away with murder.
      In fact their crimes are downplayed, while any crime committed by the other side has to be
      milked for all its worth, by howls of outrage, or used as an excuse to either build more illegal settlements, or to serve some of that collective punishment on innocent families.

    • Talkback
      May 6, 2016, 8:55 am

      When Jewish terrorists were targeted by British mandate emergency regulations (which Jews continue to apply on Palestinans: house demolishions, administrative dentention, etc.) before 1948, the future first justice minister of Israel complained back then that even the Nazis wouldn’t have such regulations.

      Go figure.

  5. oldgeezer
    May 4, 2016, 12:41 pm

    As someone who doesn’t support the death penalty the sentence seems fine. The case isn’t finished yet and there will no doubt be appeals. The Israeli justice system is a joke and Jewish crimes are largely forgiven when they are committed against non Jews but I expect the judgement will be upheld given the media profile of the case. If there is any undoing of this it will be a few years down the road, once it’s out of the media’s lens.

    There won’t be any razing of his family home or collective punishment. There never should be. Not if the perp is Jewish and not if the perp is Palestinian. I won’t clamour for such actions but I will use it to point out the lack of justice in Israel’s racist court system.

  6. xanadou
    May 4, 2016, 5:17 pm

    I am against the death penalty b/c a long sentence not only takes away the best years of a person’s life, but the savage murderer will have to live until his own death with the stigma.

    Will the murderer serve the full time? Not likely. I expect he will be kept out of sight for a while, until he is forgotten, then quietly released probably into a foreign country into a community that will make the murderer into their own martyr, further compounding the nightmare for the murderer who will never be able to get away from the horror of his deed. A fate worse than a death sentence.

    Will this be the end, especially of the Israelis obsession with burning alive human beings? I doubt it. I fear that the hysteria created by the zios has gone too far as it is now effectively destroying its own community. Mazeltov, dumb zio cretins who have created a very dangerous precedent that may backfire on those the zios profess to care about.

    • Mooser
      May 4, 2016, 6:35 pm

      ” into a community that will make the murderer into their own martyr,”

      You really think they will go that far?

      • xanadou
        May 5, 2016, 11:50 am

        Good catch, fair comment.

        To clarify the unintended ambiguity:
        Short of a plastic surgery, name change and a new bio, I would not be surprised if the murderer were released into a foreign country with a sympathetic community with the settler mentality, which community may elevate the murderer into the victim (martyr) of “self-hating” israeli jurists pandering to global anti-semitism in order to produce the (redundant) delusion of a law abiding country.

        Bottom line, this young man, not very bright and functioning in a thoroughly corrupt system that had filled him with delusions of grandeur, assuming he is not a clinical psychopath, who will one day grasp the full measure of his crime, will likely spend the rest of his life in the tenth circle of hell created by the zios for those among their own kind and used to further their (zios) own tawdry interests. Effectively damning Israel, Israelis and Judaism to an eternity* of condemnation. Double mazeltov…

        *the Germans have already spent 70 years paying for five years of WW2 atrocities, with no end in sight. What will 70 years cost the Jews? (rhetorical)

        I am beginning to agree with Miko Peled’s thoughts about the chances of Israel’s survival into the future.

      • Mooser
        May 5, 2016, 4:45 pm

        “which community may elevate the murderer into the victim (martyr) of “self-hating” israeli jurists”

        You know, “xanadou”,now that you have explained it, on the whole that is a humane concept, and one which I should embrace. From now on, it’s a living martyrship for me.

        I don’t know, maybe it’s just a paroxysm of that ol’ self-hatred, but you don’t think maybe the term “martyr” could be better applied elsewhere in this situation?

Leave a Reply