Convictions upheld for 3 extremist Jews who burned Palestinian teen alive


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Supreme Court upheld the convictions of three Jewish extremists convicted of burning a Palestinian teen alive in a revenge killing.

The court on Thursday upheld life sentences for two of the killers, one a minor at the time of the murder, and a 21-year prison term for the other minor involved in the killing.

The three kidnapped Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, from eastern Jerusalem, then beat and burned him alive in a forest outside of the city on July 1, 2014, soon after the bodies of three Jewish teens kidnapped and murdered by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas were found in a shallow grave near Hebron in the West Bank more than two weeks after they went missing from a hitchhiking stand near Alon Shvut in the Etzion bloc of settlements.

At the time of his conviction, the Jerusalem District Court determined that Yosef Ben-David, now 33, was mentally fit to be sentenced, rejecting his insanity plea that he should not be held responsible for his actions at the time of the kidnapping and murder because of a history of mental illness. He was sentenced in May 2016.

“All three made a decision to cause death while committing the act, in a spontaneous partnership,” the judges wrote. “The acts they carried out have turned into the Abu Khdeir affair, and exceeded the boundaries of a regular criminal case. The murder calls for profound self-examination from top to bottom in Israeli society as to dealing with the phenomenon of racism and its metastases.”