An Israeli teenager has been sentenced to life in prison and another was given 21 years, for the murder of a young Palestinian in the run-up to the recent Gaza war. The youths kidnapped their victim and burned him alive.
A Jerusalem court announced the sentence on Thursday without providing the defendants' names, as both of them were minors at the time of the 2014 attack.
State prosecutor Ori Korb told reporters that the long prison terms reflected the "barbaric" and morally twisted nature of the crime.
A relative of the two teenagers, 31-year-old Israeli settler Yosef Haim Ben-David, is accused of leading the ethnically charged killing. However, his lawyers claimed he suffers from a mental illness that makes him legally unaccountable for his actions.
The court has yet to rule if Ben-David is mentally competent to stand trial.
Hunting for the victim
The three defendants snatched 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir outside his home in East Jerusalem and forced him into a car. They proceeded to beat him unconscious while driving to a forest, where they burned him alive.
The 2014 incident is believed to be a revenge killing after three Israelis were kidnapped and killed in the occupied territories.
According to the prosecutors, Ben-David and his relatives had tried to kidnap a Palestinian child the night before grabbing Abu Khdeir but failed because the child's mother struggled with the attackers.
Abu Khdeir's death sparked Palestinian riots, escalating the spiral of violence that eventually lead to the Gaza war in the summer of 2014.
New clashes in West Bank
Abu Khdeir's father, Hussein Abu Khdeir, said on Thursday that he would appeal the shorter sentence to Israel's highest court.
He also called for the homes of the Israeli attackers to be demolished, which is a step Israeli authorities often take when Palestinian assailants attack Israelis.
"This is the life of Mohammed we are talking about," Suha Abu Khdeir, Mohammed's mother, said later outside the court. "He did not deserve this. We can't sleep at night. How is this going to help us sleep at night?"
The Jewish and the Arab populations are currently locked into another cycle of violence. The nearly five-month-long conflict has so far claim the lives of some 27 Israelis and 154 Palestinians.
On Thursday, the Israeli military sealed of the home village of the three Palestinian men who staged a deadly attack in Jerusalem and conducted raids in the settlement.
dj/sms (AFP, dpa, AP)