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‘There is no justice here in Israel’: Two found guilty of murdering Mohammed Abu Khdeir, but ringleader verdict delayed

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An Israeli court today convicted two Jewish minors who abducted and burned Mohammed Abu Khdeir alive in July 2014. Abu Khdeir was a 16-year old Palestinian from Jerusalem whose killing sparked months of unrest across the holy city, and many Palestinian believe initiated the start of the 51-day war in Gaza that summer. The court delayed ruling on the alleged ringleader, 29-year old settler Yosef Haim Ben-David for whom prosecutors sought a life sentence. In an eleventh hour motion lawyers representing Ben-David submitted an additional psychiatric evaluation claiming the lead defendant suffered from mental illness from the age of 13, further prolonging the trial that began last year.

Sentencing terms for the two minors is expected in late December. While the harshest penalty for murder for an adult is life in prison, there is no standard maximum sentence in Israel for minors convicted of the same crimes, said Mohanned Jabara, a lawyer representing the Abu Khdeir family.

Moreover if the court rules Ben-David was not mentally sound when he committed the kidnapping and murder, Ben-David will evade life in prison and serve time in a psychiatric ward until he is deemed mentally fit and released.

“Frankly I was shocked. I hoped they all would get a punishment,” said the mother of the victim, Suha Abu Khdeir, 45, from her living room hours after the trial ended. “It’s like they burned him again,” Suha continued between resting her head in her hands, “This court is worthless. At the least they should be in jail until they die.”

“We have complicated feelings,” Ansam Abu Khdeir, 28, said, a cousin of the deceased, “We don’t know what to feel, we already know there is no justice here in Israel,” she continued.

Album of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, dancing with his family's debke troupe. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Album of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, dancing with his family’s debke troupe. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Days after the three Israelis abducted Mohammed from his backyard they gave a full admission to the police. In a rare move Israel enacted a British mandatory law still on the books revoking their right to an attorney during the interrogation. The accused detailed the plans made in advance to kill an Arab, in retribution for an earlier murder and abduction of three Israeli teens near a West Bank settlement.

Once Abu Khdeir was abducted, the three Israelis beat him with a crow bar and poured gasoline down his throat. After incinerating him alive, they dumped his’s body in a West Jerusalem field. During police questioning the three were filmed re-enacting the crime.

During the trial Israeli security services showed a video of the defendants practicing striking a potential Palestinian victim, filmed a few days before they committed the murder.

“They said ‘we were playing karate’” Aisha Abu Khdeir, 55, Mohammed’s Aunt said who saw the footage in court. “The police have everything. How they did it, how they planned it.”

From the outset of the trial the Abu Khdeir family was not convinced Israel would hand down harsh sentences. They look to past examples of settler violence against Palestinians that ended without convictions. The Israeli human rights law firm Yesh Din reported earlier this year only 1.7% of settlers are indicted for acts of violence against Palestinians and their property. The Palestinian government logged more than 1000 instances of settler violence during 2014.

Over the course of the hearing many from the Abu Khdeir family said they want their relative’s killers to receive the same treatment as Palestinians accused of killing Israelis. “They kill him first, they demolish their house, they arrest their families,” said Ansam, referring to Israel’s renewed policy of leveling the homes of Palestinians accused of killing Israelis in knife attacks over recent months. As for Jewish extremists who carry out similar acts, Israel’s high court ruled this year that destroying their homes would not be a deterrent because, they found, settler violence against Palestinians is not an ongoing issue.

“Every time the trial is happening we feel it coming all at once again,” said Ansam who tearfully explained the 22 court sessions in the past year were a constant reminder of the gruesome way in which Mohammed was killed. “It’s not getting any easier for us,” she said. Mohammed’s parents both take sleep aides.

“It’s endless, I mean it. You see what happened to Mohammed, it happened to the Dawabshe’s”—Ansam added, referring to the West Bank family of four who was similarly burned in a settler arson attack last July that killed both parents and their infant son, critically injuring their eldest child, four-year-old Ahmad Dawasbshe who is still recovering in an Israeli hospital.

“Actually I wish I was at the house and saw him that morning,” Ansam said reflecting back on her cousin’s last morning alive when he sat outside with three of his cousins before morning prayers during the holy month of Ramadan. After a moment together, Mohammed was left outside alone while the others went back into the family home. When they returned minutes later, Mohammed was gone, already kidnapped.

Allison Deger

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

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22 Responses

  1. Jackdaw on November 30, 2015, 1:18 pm

    No. There is justice in Israel, for the sane, and for the insane. Let the Court work through it’s procedures.

    • John O on November 30, 2015, 2:01 pm

      I notice you did not say “for Palestinians and non-Jewish Israelis”. But, let’s see what happens when the two youths are sentenced, and the ringleader’s plea of insanity is ruled upon. Then we will all have a better idea of how justice is faring in Israel.

      • Rooster on November 30, 2015, 10:26 pm

        If these were Palestinians, their homes would long ago have been made rubble, and their families homeless. I don’t need to see any more than that to know how unjust the Israeli court system is.

    • a blah chick on November 30, 2015, 2:17 pm

      “Let the Court work through it’s procedures.” Too bad the Palestinians don’t live long enough to get TO court.

      • Marnie on December 1, 2015, 12:17 am

        So true.

        Jackdaw, there’s no justice for Palestinians in any zionist court. Post that fertilizer somewhere else. Will have to see if Palestinians finally have justice in the ICC.

    • amigo on November 30, 2015, 2:43 pm

      Yes Jackduh , these poor put upon squatter thugs/murderers have endured for so long , the soul destroying task of seeing Ay rabs on the same streets and breathing the same air Why , it,s enough to turn any normal peace loving and God fearing zionist completely insane.

      Btw , have their houses been demolished yet or is that hung up in the planning process.

    • amigo on December 1, 2015, 11:58 am

      “No. There is justice in Israel, for the sane, and for the insane” jackduh

      So tell us all , jackduh , how many Palestinians have been found not guilty or given a lighter sentence ,on the basis they were insane.Just one name will do.See you after Xmas . Happy hunting prancer.

      The irony is , that if any group in this sorry state of affairs should reach insanity , it is the Palestinians.Amazing how strong their will is , versus the weak lily livered zioniist mind that caves in so easily.

    • talknic on December 3, 2015, 8:47 am

      @ Jackdaw

      A) It didn’t happen in Israel!

      B) The court procedure has been condone another war crime by denying “Israel, the Occupying Power‘s legal responsibility to protect the occupied and their property and their territory and to pick up the tab for any shortfall in necessities, such as hospitalization

  2. a blah chick on November 30, 2015, 2:26 pm

    From the very beginning neither the prosecutors nor the judges wanted to sentence the juveniles to long prison terms. If you don’t punish the ringleader too severely how can you punish the lads who were just followers? No doubt they feel the young ‘uns can be rehabilitated and turned into fine soldiers. As we can see they know how to follow orders blindly, definitely IDF material! Had they only waited a year or two then they would have been in uniform and free to beat and shoot and abuse to their hearts’ content. Now they’ll have to serve a little time thinking about how they embarrassed the great nation of Israel.

  3. Palikari on November 30, 2015, 4:07 pm

    Israel arrests criminals, puts them before a court and condemns them. In contrast, in the Territories terrorists are regarded as heroes and rewarded by the Palestinian Authority.

    If you’re looking for a place with no justice, that place clearly isn’t Israel.

    • diasp0ra on November 30, 2015, 4:31 pm

      “In contrast, in the Territories terrorists are regarded as heroes and rewarded by the Palestinian Authority.”

      I would laugh if this wasn’t so sad.

      You are aware that there are a great deal of Israeli prime ministers who were Zionist terrorists, right?

      Kokhav Ya’ir was literally named after a terrorist that wanted to collaborate with HITLER. His face was printed on a stamp by Israel. Do you really want to talk about treating terrorists as heroes, Palikari?

    • amigo on November 30, 2015, 4:47 pm

      “Israel arrests criminals, puts them before a court and condemns them.” Palikari

      Yep , condemns them to return to their units and make sure they never ever embarrass the State of Israel again by carrying out their orders in the presence of Cameras.

      ” In contrast, in the Territories terrorists are regarded as heroes and rewarded by the Palestinian Authority.” Palikari

      Does the word “Lehi ” mean anything to you.You will find references to their terrorist activities in the following list.These were the same Jewish terrorists that were awarded the “Lehi Ribbon of Honour ” as a reward for their terrorist acts by the GOI.

      I thought Mooser warned you guys about stomping around in piles of bovine excretion.

      “1947: A Year of Terror

      Jan. 12—Four killed by Irgun terrorist bombing of British headquarters.
      Jan. 13—Arab kidnapped and castrated by Jewish terrorists.
      March 1—Sixteen Britons killed by Jewish terrorists/Britain invokes martial law
      March 10—Jewish informer killed by Jewish terrorists.
      March 11—Two British soldiers killed by Jewish terrorists.
      April 8—British constable killed by Jewish terrorists.
      April 8—Jewish boy killed by British troops.
      April 8—Jew beaten to death by Arabs.
      April 22—Eight killed in Jewish terrorist bombing of the Cairo-Haifa train.
      April 25—Five killed in Jewish terrorist bombing of British camp.
      April 26—British police official killed by Jewish terrorist.
      May 8—Three Jewish shops in Tel Aviv whose owners refused to contribute to Jewish terrorist groups burned down by Jewish terrorists.
      May 8—Jew killed near Tel Aviv by Arab terrorists.
      May 12—Two British policemen killed in Jewish Jerusalem.
      May 15—British policeman killed in terrorist ambush.
      May 15—Two British soldiers killed in terrorist Stern Gang attack.
      May 16—Two British police officers killed by terrorists.
      May 18—One Jew killed, one wounded by Arab terrorists.
      June 5—Jewish terrorists introduce letter bombs in Middle East.
      June 28—Four British soldiers killed in Jewish terrorist raids.
      July 3—“Anti-terrorist” Jewish families beaten up by Irgunists.
      July 18—British soldier killed by Jewish terrorists.
      July 19—Another British soldier killed by Jewish terrorists.
      July 20—Yet another British soldier killed by Jewish terrorists.
      July 23—65 Jews killed when Haganah sinks immigration ship.
      July 26—Two British soldiers killed in booby trap.
      July 29—Three Jews executed by hanging. Jewish terrorists retaliate by hanging two British soldiers.
      Aug. 5—Three British police killed by bomb; plot discovered to poison the water supply of non-Jewish parts of Jerusalem with botulism and other bacteria.
      Aug. 10—Four Jews killed in Arab terror attack on Tel Aviv café.
      Aug. 12—Five Jews, four Arabs killed, others injured, in spread of violent incidents over three days.
      Aug. 15—Twelve Palestinians killed in raid by Haganah troops.
      Aug. 18—Shops of five Jews in Tel Aviv destroyed by Jewish terrorists.
      Aug. 23—Five Arabs of one family—two men, a woman and two children—killed by Jewish terrorists.
      Sept. 7—French foil Stern Gang plot to air bomb London.
      Sept. 21—British messenger killed by Jewish terrorists.
      Sept. 26—Four British policemen killed in Irgun terrorist bank robbery.
      Sept. 27—Illegal Jewish immigrant killed by British.
      Sept. 29—13 killed, 53 wounded in Irgun terrorist attack on British police station.
      Oct. 4—Two Jews killed in ambush, two Arabs killed in retaliation.
      Oct. 13—Two British troops killed by Jewish terrorists in Jerusalem.
      Oct. 26—Jewish settlement policeman found killed near Gaza.
      Nov. 3—Jewish policeman killed, reportedly by Stern Gang after refusing to reveal secret police matters.
      Nov. 12—21 killed in British-Jewish clashes.
      Nov. 14—Jewish terrorists kill 4 Britons in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
      Nov. 30—Violent riots erupt throughout Arab world following adoption of U.N. partition plan. In Palestine, seven Jews killed and eight wounded in the first day. All told, during the first week at least 159 persons were killed in the Middle East, 66 of them in Palestine.
      Dec. 2—Palestinians begin 3-day protest strike; 20 Jews, 15 Arabs killed. Five Arabs and seven Jews were killed the next day during a six-hour battle on the Tel Aviv-Jaffa border.
      Dec. 13—35 Palestinian civilians killed in Jewish terrorist attacks.
      Dec. 14—14 Jews killed by Arab Legion in retaliation.
      Dec. 18—Palmach (“assault companies”) kills 10 Arabs, including 5 children, in nighttime raid on northern Galilee village of Khissas. The following day Haganah troops blew up the home of the village elder of Qazaza in central Palestine, killing several inhabitants. Wrote The Times of London: “While the Jews are suffering mainly through sniping at their road convoys, the Arabs have lost many lives through Jewish assaults on their villages.”
      Dec. 20—Haganah raid on village of Qazaza kills one Palestinian.
      Dec. 24—Stern Gang member killed for betrayal of another member.
      Dec. 25—16 Arabs, Jews and British killed on Christmas.
      Dec. 25—Palestinian landowner killed for selling land to Jews.
      Dec. 26—Ben-Gurion proposes major offensive to reduce Arab population.
      Dec. 26—Jewish terrorists get $107,000 in heists of diamond plants.
      Dec. 29—14 Arabs killed by Irgun bomb in Jerusalem.
      Dec. 29—Irgun flogs British major and three sergeants.
      Dec. 30—41 Jews, 6 Arabs killed in riot sparked by Stern Gang.
      Dec. 31—Irgun claims to have killed 374 Arabs and British during year.—D.N

      • Kay24 on November 30, 2015, 4:50 pm

        Well said. Israel began with a ruthless bunch of terrorists.

        No surprise if Palestinians think those who retaliate against an occupation, land grabs, and years of oppression, are heroes. As long as the occupation goes on, there will be many who think they must be heroes, to save their people.

    • a blah chick on November 30, 2015, 5:15 pm

      “Israel arrests criminals, puts them before a court and condemns them.”

      Tell that to the Dawabshe family.

    • talknic on November 30, 2015, 5:29 pm

      Palikari “Israel arrests criminals, puts them before a court and condemns them”

      Strange Netanyahu hasn’t been arrested. BTW the three who burned a non-Jewish boy to death are likely to walk free as a reward. Two although found guilty being deemed too young and the third suddenly pleading insanity

      ” In contrast, in the Territories terrorists are regarded as heroes and rewarded by the Palestinian Authority “

      Uh? Israel slaughters them. How do you reward a dead terrorist?


      • Kris on November 30, 2015, 5:37 pm

        Talknic, everyone knows that you reward a dead “terrorist” by bulldozing the home his relatives are living in.

        This is why the homes of the families of the Jewish murderers who burned the Palestinian boy to death have been demolished.

        Oh, wait, they haven’t! I guess because they are not dead, and the bulldoze-their-homes rule applies only to bereaved families.

    • italian ex-pat on November 30, 2015, 6:34 pm

      “Israel arrests criminals . . .” Oh yeah? I guess it depends on your definition of ‘criminal’.
      It obviously doesn’t apply to the savage settlers strutting around armed to the teeth, destroying Palestinian olive orchards, killing their sheep and setting fire to their homes and mosques. No, apparently that is not considered criminal, since the IDF actually protects the settlers while engaged in such law-abiding activities. Oops, I’m being unfair, let me correct myself: they probably do not protect them WHILE they perpetrate arson attacks . . only afterwards. When they admit they know who burned to death a family asleep in their home, but will not arrest them in order not to compromise their spies. Clearly.
      And by the way, how many Palestinian ‘terrorists’ have been arrested and brought to trial lately? I mean, as opposed to being executed on the spot even when no longer posing a threat to anyone? Justice, indeed.

    • Mooser on December 1, 2015, 11:36 am

      “In contrast, in the Territories

      “Territories”? Didn’t you forget a word or two, like, oh, “illegally occupied”?

    • eljay on December 3, 2015, 8:59 am

      || Palikari: Israel arrests criminals, puts them before a court and condemns them. … ||

      Israel assassinates teenage girls.

      || … In contrast, in the Territories terrorists are regarded as heroes … ||

      Israel worships its terrorists, regardless of whether they commit(ted) their acts of terrorism within Israel’s / Partition borders or outside of them.

      || … If you’re looking for a place with no justice, that place clearly isn’t Israel. ||

      If you’re looking for an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist, belligerent, intransigent and religion-supremacist state that has been committing (war) crimes and flouting international law with impunity for almost 70 years, that place is very clearly Israel.

  4. diasp0ra on December 2, 2015, 8:44 pm

    On a relevant note:

    Israel sends 1.9 million Shekel ($490,000) medical treatment bill of Dawabshe family to the Palestinians.

    Israel has decided to deduct the fees from the PA tax collection that Israel collects per the Paris protocol.

    According to Israel the Dawabshe family is not eligible for free treatment such as that offered to Israelis injured from Palestinian attacks.

    Samir Dawabsheh commented that “It seems that Israel’s speed and efficiency in preparing the bill vastly outpaced their speed and efficiency in apprehending the perpetrators.”

    Full story in Arabic:

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on December 3, 2015, 7:07 am

      Talk about adding insult to injury.

      I remember when this atrocity happened, and the hasbara responses were twofold: 1) that Israel was so kind and caring that it paid for the family’s medical treatment, and 2) that unlike the Palestinians, who celebrate killers, Israel would hunt down the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

      Well, 2) fell apart long ago – Israel, despite its much-vaunted ‘intelligence’ services, still hasnt’ managed to even arrest the known perpetrators, much less bring them to trial. And now it appears 1) has bitten the dust too. I guess that just as soon as the cameras moved away – which they do very quickly in the case of Palestinian victims – the Israelis saw no reason to maintain the pretence of caring anymore.

  5. Citizen on December 3, 2015, 4:28 am

    Haaretz had recent article asking if Israel’s double standard re judicial/criminal process had something to do with the recent Palestinian violence.

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