The Jerusalem District Court on Monday approved an unusual plea bargain made
between the district attorney and lawyers representing Jack Teitel, and
determined that the defendant had murdered two Palestinians and committed other
Judges Zvi Segal, Moshe Hacohen and Moshe Yair Drori said
that the court determined that Teitel committed the acts attributed to him in an
The amended indictment includes 10 of the original 14
charges against Teitel, including two murders and two attempted murders, after
the prosecution agreed to remove charges relating to attempted attacks that the
authorities had foiled.
While the judges found that Teitel had committed
the acts, they did not formally convict him.
Instead, the court will
reconvene next month to determine whether Teitel was criminally responsible for
his actions when he committed the offenses.
Although he agreed to admit
to the charges, Teitel refused to come and speak directly to the court because
he does not recognize its authority.
Instead, Teitel’s attorney Asher
Ohayon told the court that Teitel admitted to the charges in the amended
Dubbed “the Jewish terrorist,” Florida-born Teitel, 39, was
originally indicted in 2009. He is charged with the 1997 murder of Palestinian
taxi driver Samir Balbisi, who was found shot dead in his cab.
to the indictment, in around May 1997, when Teitel was still in the US, he
decided to murder Palestinians and came to Israel for that purpose, smuggling a
gun into the country by hiding it in a VCR.
Teitel spent his first weeks
in Israel with friends in Jerusalem.
Later, he acquired bullets for his
smuggled gun, and sought out a suitable victim to murder.
said Teitel chose to murder an Arab taxi driver because he thought he could ask
the driver to first drive him to a suitable spot.
On June 8, 1997, Teitel
went to the Arab taxi stand at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, the indictment
said, where he hired Balbisi and told him to take him to a hotel.
driving for a while, however, Teitel told Balbisi to stop and wait, before
shooting the Palestinian in the head at point-blank range.
also charges Teitel with the murder of a second Palestinian man, Beduin shepherd
Isaa Mousa’af Mahamada, who was shot dead near the West Bank settlement of
Carmel, near Hebron, in August 1997.
In 2000, Teitel immigrated to Israel
and lived in Shvut Rachel, a West Bank settlement north of Jerusalem, where he
married and had four children. That same year, he was arrested by police on
suspicion of carrying out both of the 1997 murders, but was later released due
to lack of evidence.
In March 2008, according to the indictment, Teitel
attempted to murder 15-year-old Amiel Ortiz, a Messianic Jewish teen from
Teitel sent a bomb in a Purim gift basket to Ortiz’s home, which
exploded when he opened it.
Other charges include planting homemade
explosives at the home of Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell, a left-wing scholar from the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem in September 2008; attempting to murder a
resident of the Beit Jamal monastery near Beit Shemesh because he believed the
monastery’s inhabitants were missionaries who tried to convert Jewish children;
and attacking a police station in 2006 during a gay pride
Following his arrest in 2009, Teitel was remanded into custody in
a secure psychiatric facility, and though an initial psychiatric assessment in
2010 deemed him unfit to stand trial, later tests showed that he was able to
In Monday’s hearing, the judges ruled that the court
will reconvene on June 28 to discuss whether Teitel had been responsible for his
actions when he carried out the offenses.
Teitel’s lawyers are expected
to argue that their client did not know right from wrong when he committed the
acts, and therefore the court cannot impose a prison term.
prosecution is expected to argue that Teitel was responsible for his actions
when committing the crimes.
If the judges find that Teitel was
responsible for his actions, the court will likely impose a long prison term.
The mandatory sentence for murder is life in prison.