Kristine L Ming

Arab lawmaker on Abu Khdeir verdict: Israeli legal system protects Jewish murderers

Approximately 200 people protested outside the Jerusalem District Court on Monday over its decision in the murder of Arab teen Muhammad Abu Khdeir who was burned alive by three Jews in the capital in the summer of 2014. 

The court convicted two of the minor defendants in the murder but it delayed its decision regarding the adult defendant Yosef Haim Ben-David, because his lawyer submitted a last minute legal opinion about his sanity.

Arab MKs voiced their outrage over the court’s decision.

“Muhammad Abu Khdeir was murdered only because he was an Arab, and this time, like many times in the past, when the murderers are Jews, the legal system protects them,” Joint List head Ayman Odeh said.

“The state is sending a clear message of forgiveness and understanding when it comes to Jewish terror,”  he said. 

MK Joseph Jabarin, also of the Joint List, said the decision to delay the verdict for the central defendant was infuriating.    

The decision, Jabarin said, “sends a message of forgiveness to the criminals that it is possible to evade the law.”

“It is unthinkable that the main defendant will not pay for his crimes immediately. The Palestinian public already does not have faith in the Israeli justice system and this decision only strengthens that belief,” Jabarin said. 

Hussein Abu Khdeir, Muhammad’s father, who in the past said the trial of his son was a farce and a public relations stunt, told Army Radio before the decision was handed down on Monday morning that he wanted the court to sentence the accused killers to life.

“I want that what is done to Arabs will also be done to Jews: life sentences, not pardoning.”

He said that he and his wife were taking pills to deal with the pain of losing their son. “We constantly think about Muhammad, how he burned. It is impossible, it is truly hard for us.”

On his son’s accused killers he said: “These are the new Nazis. I look at them and they want to kill me.”

The three defendants Ben-David, the ringleader, and two additional Jewish minors, burned Abu Khdeir to death on July 2, 2014, as a nationalist revenge murder following the infamous kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teenagers in June 2014.

The names of the minor defendants, one from Jerusalem and another from Beit Shemesh, remain under a gag order.

Ben-David, 30, from the settlement of Adam, who had been named as the leader of the three, did not take the stand to defend himself against the allegations and earlier had unsuccessfully tried to plead insanity.

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