Mohammed Abu Khdeir: Teens Convicted In Burning Death Of Palestinian Boy

Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16, was kidnapped, assaulted, and burned to death in July 2014. On Monday, two Israeli teens were convicted of killing the Palestinian youth. Although 31-year-old Yoseph Haim Ben-David is suspected of orchestrating the brutal crime, his verdict was delayed due to an insanity plea.

Authorities believe Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s abduction and murder were carried out in retaliation for the deaths of three Israeli teens — who were kidnapped one month earlier.

As reported by Times of Israel, Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, were hitchhiking home from school on the evening of June 12.

While waiting at a known hitchhiking stop in Gush Etzion, the teens were offered a ride by two men who were later identified as Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme.

Although the teens eventually realized they were being kidnapped by extremists, it was simply too late.

According to reports, one of the victims managed to contact authorities while inside the abductors’ vehicle. However, authorities believe Naftali, Shaer, and Yifrah were shot and killed “during the phone call.”

As reported by NPR, the bodies of all three teens were discovered by Israeli security forces nearly three weeks later. Authorities confirmed the boys were “partially buried” on land owned by one of the suspects.

Although they evaded capture for several months, Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme were eventually shot and killed by Israeli forces. Their deaths were confirmed by IDF Lieutenant General Benny Gantz on September 23, 2014.

BBC reports a third suspect, 40-year-old Hussam Qawasmeh, was captured while attempting to flee to Jordan.

As he admittedly orchestrated the kidnapping of the three teens and assisted in the disposal of their bodies, Qawasmeh was charged and convicted of assisting in the abduction and deaths of Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer, and Naftali Fraenkel. He was further charged and convicted of participating in terrorist activities in conjunction with Hamas.

Although Naftali, Shaer, and Yifrah’s suspected killers were eventually brought to justice, another teen was reportedly murdered in retaliation for their deaths.

On July 2, 2014, Mohammed Abu Khdeir was abducted while standing outside a mosque in East Jerusalem. Within hours, the teen’s charred remains were found in the Jerusalem Forest in Givat Shaul.

As reported by The Guardian, it was later determined that Abu Khdeir was burned alive — as medical examiners found “soot deposits in his lungs.”

Authorities said Yoseph Haim Ben-David drove his two accomplices, which were 16-year-old boys, to East Jerusalem and instructed them to force Mohammed Abu Khdeir into the car.

Once inside the car, the teen was reportedly beaten unconscious. He was then transported to the Jerusalem Forest, where he was dragged into the woods, doused with gasoline, and set ablaze.

CBS News reports at least two of the suspects confessed to the abduction and murder. During a series of police interviews, the suspects confirmed Abu Khdeir was killed in retaliation for the deaths of Naftali, Shaer, and Yifrah.

The teen suspects, who were not identified by name, were convicted of murder by Judge Jacob Zaban on Monday. Authorities confirmed the teens will be sentenced in January. Although they are minors, the teens could spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Ben-David’s verdict was also scheduled to be read on Monday. However, his attorneys filed a last minute appeal — which suggests their client is not liable for his participation in Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s death as he is insane.

In a related incident, which occurred in early November, Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s 15-year-old cousin, Tariq, was assaulted by a police officer while protesting his cousin’s murder. The officer, who was not named, was found liable and sentenced to six weeks of community service.

[AP Photo/Oded Balilty]