Jewish Israeli sentenced to life plus 20 years for revenge murder of Palestinian teen


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Jewish-Israeli man convicted of the revenge murder of a Palestinian teen was sentenced to life plus 20 years in jail on Tuesday.

The sentence for Yosef Ben-David, 31, of Jerusalem for the kidnapping and murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir in July 2014 was handed down in Jerusalem District Court. The court also ordered Ben-David to pay the Palestinian teen’s family $39,000 in damages. Israel does not have a death penalty.

“I request forgiveness from the family for what happened; it wasn’t under my control. That’s not my character and I am not that kind of man,” Ben-David said in court.

He also said that he used to volunteer for the Zaka rescue organization and took care of both Jewish and Arab bodies.

“I always considered the human image and respect for the dead to be holy,” Ben-David said.

He and two teenage accomplices burned Khdeir to death in the Jerusalem forest.

The court in February determined that Ben-David 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. The plea noted that Ben-David was under medication for his condition.

Ben David’s attorneys have said they will appeal the conviction and the sentence.

The names of Ben-David’s accomplices, who were both 16 at the time of the killing, have not been released publicly. The accomplices were sentenced last month: one to life in prison, the other to 21 years.

The three kidnapped Khdeir, then beat and burned him alive, soon after the bodies of three Jewish teens kidnapped and murdered by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas were found in the West Bank.

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