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Identities of minors who admitted to killing Mohammed Abu Khdeir to be revealed Monday

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On Monday three Israelis who admitted to the killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the 16-year old Palestinian who was burned to death over the summer after being abducted from behind his East Jerusalem home in a revenge killing for the unrelated kidnapping and slaying of three Israeli youths a month prior, will give their pleas in district court.

Yosef Haim Ben-David, a 29-year old settler is expected to plea insanity and is the assumed ringleader. The other defendants identities have been sealed by a gag order as they are minors. However, an Israeli judge will allow media and the public to attend tomorrow’s hearing, in effect lifting the ban on concealing their identities.

“Because of this special circumstances in this case, that the case became a case to the whole world, and the Gaza war occurred because of this case, I think the Israeli Ministry of Justice wants to make it more than a regular case.” said Mohanned Jabara, the lawyer representing the Abu Khdeir family.

Jabara is hopeful the state will take seriously the gruesome crime that was the lightening rod for clashes across every Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem. After the young Abu Khdeir’s body was found charred and deposited in a field hours after he was taken, his home community of Shuafat erupted. Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police unfolded nightly for months, earning the title the “Jerusalem Intifada.” The light rail stop in Shuafat, to Palestinians a symbol of Israeli control over East Jerusalem, was torched several times during the upheaval. Police barricaded the road entrances in and out of Shuafat for weeks.

Criticisms of police methods persisted from the moment Abu Khdeir’s remains were discovered. Initially, while the autopsy was underway to determine if foul play had occurred—and whether the motivation was criminal or national—Jerusalem police manufactured a rumor to defame the victim. The authorities told journalists that the deceased was gay and likely killed by a family member in an honor crime. Abu Khdeir’s father, Hussein Abu Khdeir was even interrogated at the medical complex and asked to surrender for questioning several of the male members of the family. This scandalous fabrication later led to the resignation of the Jerusalem police chief.

Despite a police investigation marred with soap drama misinformation and missteps, the state attorney’s office will prosecute Abu Khdeir’s killers to the fullest extent—not shying away from the nationalistic motivation of the crime. In advance of the trial the state released a deposition from the eldest defendant, settler Yosef Haim Ben-David who admitted he “planned to hurt a soul, meaning to kill… to torture him and kill him.”

Although Ben-David has claimed a mental health disorder the extent of his duress is unknown. During arraignment in July he reportedly stated that he is “the messiah.” His deposition released after the pre-trial is macabre and displays cold premeditation. He told police:

“I took three empty bottles from home, we found two more and we drove to the Hizmeh gas station. There, I filled five bottles with fuel, because we were furious and determined to burn something that belongs to Arabs.”

In a surprising move Israel’s state’s attorney office selected Uri Korv to prosecute Ben-David and the other two accused. Korv is an intrepid attorney with a record of bringing heavy sentences to embattled high profile criminals. He prosecuted the hearing against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, where the head of state was handed down a six-year prison term after being convicted of corruption over the Holyland apartment row.

Even with Korv, a signal Israel is leaning to unfurl a heavy hand against Abu Khdeir’s killers, Jabara thinks the trial will be lengthy. He said the defendants are being represented individually and have already switched lawyers a number of times. Ben-David in particular is poised to push back trial dates over his assertion of mental instability. “If they claim this matter, the court must go to a medical committee for a report before continuing with the court,” said Jabara indicating such delays could cause the trail to go on for a year and a half.

Allison Deger

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

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16 Responses

  1. a blah chick on October 19, 2014, 8:38 pm

    These defendants are lucky to be Jewish. If they’d been Arab it would have been a bullet to the head or death by drone.

  2. seafoid on October 19, 2014, 11:25 pm

    They poured petrol down this throat and set it alight.
    And plead insanity. They were educated to hate.

    It is the Zionist system which is insane .

  3. bryan on October 20, 2014, 3:41 am

    Another example of “Jerusalem madness” (see If the Jewish state values the mental health of its citizens it would be well-advised to restrict immigration to the city, or even to hand it over to international administration, as the UN partition plan proposed. Secular Tel Aviv seems to manage quite well as the rational and even hedonistic center of western life in the land, but the West Bank settlements (including Jerusalem) seem to attract the worst of racism, misogyny, fanaticism and lunacy.

  4. DoubleStandard on October 20, 2014, 4:11 am

    Should be “plead insanity” in the opening. And “presumed ringleader” is grammatically better than “assumed ringleader” (“assumed to be the ringleader” works)

    • Marnie on October 20, 2014, 7:41 am

      I don’t think Mondoweiss is looking for any editors. Try J. Post or its twin, arutz sheva?

  5. Talkback on October 20, 2014, 8:03 am

    It could work. Technically all Zionists can plead insanity.

    • amigo on October 20, 2014, 8:45 am

      “Technically all Zionists can plead insanity.” Talkback

      Yeah , and his defence will be that living with the occupation whereby Palestinian terrorists can at anytime attack him or blow him up , blah blah and this is mentally distressing causing him to commit, “uncharacteristic acts.When he first moved in to his new home , he was an ordinary nice friendly guy.

      And all Palestinians are Terroreeests and it does not matter what their plea is.They are guilty by birth .

  6. concernedhuman on October 20, 2014, 10:03 am

    Going all nazi on palestinains then playing the insanity card. Even if he does not play the insanity card he will walk away because he is zionist.

    By they way the war criminal defense minister who just murdered 2000 + innocent people in gaza is visiting Ground zero and is talking about how isreal cried crocodile tears .

    Its an insult to the sacrifices made by the innocent people on that day.

  7. Mooser on October 20, 2014, 10:50 am

    “Although Ben-David has claimed a mental health disorder the extent of his duress is unknown. During arraignment in July he reportedly stated that he is “the messiah.”

    Why is that crazy? Isn’t a guy who redeems a Messiah? And aren’t they redeeming the Holy Land?
    Wel;, when you redeem, you’re a Messiah. Not every Messiah is modest about it.

  8. Citizen on October 20, 2014, 12:15 pm

    So what’s going on in the case of the IDF soldiers who shot those two Palestinian school boys in the street back in, when was it, March? That incident predated the murder of the 3 Jewish hitchhikers, which was catalyst for the murder of Khdeir.

  9. Citizen on October 20, 2014, 12:20 pm

    The IDF just keeps on murdering those Palestinian boys–here’s one of the latest, 13 years old:

    • annie on October 20, 2014, 8:33 pm

      citizen, the murder of Bahaa Samir Badir was “featured” on our front page for 3 days including over the weekend. maybe you don’t visit the home page (still on the features list on home page). it was updated too although that wasn’t mentioned in the title. heart thrashing thinking about him and his twin brother. and i read today his mom said he was on his way to play soccer (i think it was soccer) and not part of the group of boys who were allegedly targeted. the unit commander opened fired, shot him close range. a child.

  10. JohnB on October 20, 2014, 11:11 pm

    It is my understanding (from various web reports) that the three ‘youths’ who were kidnapped and killed were members of the IDF. If this IS true it would seem that the implication of the always used ‘youths’ is rather disingenuous.

  11. Vera Gottlieb on October 21, 2014, 4:49 am

    A ray of hope, however small? israel’s president stating the israel’s society is sick with violence. Will he be crucified for having dared to state the truth???

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