Leader of Palestinian cell that killed three Israeli teens convicted

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli military court has convicted the alleged leader of the terrorist cell that kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers in June.

Hussam Kawasme of Hebron on Wednesday was convicted of planning and financing the kidnapping and murder of Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel, a dual Israeli-American citizen. Kawasme, who was arrested in July, was convicted based on his own confession, according to the Jerusalem Post.


Kawasme said, according to the indictment handed down in September, that funding for the attack came from Hamas in Gaza.

Kawasme said he used the money from Hamas to buy the car used in the June 12 kidnapping, as well as four firearms. The money was procured through his brother Mohamad, the indictment said. Mohamad Kawasme had been deported to Gaza after being freed from an Israeli prison in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange.

Kawasme said he helped bury the bodies on a plot of land he had purchased two months prior to the murders. He then helped the two men who drove the car and shot the teens hide. Those men, Marwan Kawasme and Omar Abu Aysh, were killed on Sept. 23 in a firefight with Israeli troops during an operation in Hebron to apprehend them.

The bodies of the three teens were discovered June 30 in a shallow grave in a field near Hebron, 18 days after they went missing, following a massive search.

Hussam Kawasme previously had served six years in an Israeli prison for his involvement in Hamas terror attacks.