The Jerusalem District Court sentenced “Jewish terrorist” Jack Tytell on Tuesday
to two life sentences and an additional 30 years in prison for the murder of two
Palestinians and an assortment of other crimes.
Just before the sentence
was handed down, Tytell said he had no regrets and was proud of what he had
Although he was only formally sentenced on Tuesday, he was
convicted on January 16.
Despite his claim that an “angel” had controlled
him, the court, explaining its verdict, found that Tytell was not insane and was
thus “responsible for his actions,” which paved the way for Tuesday’s double
The court also ordered him to pay NIS 180,000 to the
family of each murder victim and NIS 150,000 to each attempted murder
In its ruling, the court stated, “Our roots command: ‘Do not
kill’ – but the accused shut his ears and his eyes, killed and tried to kill in
cold blood... there was no foreseeable threat of a weapon or anything to fear
from them [the victims].”
The state prosecutor for the case, Sagi Ophir,
said he hoped the ruling would “send a message” that would “efficiently deter
anyone who will perpetrate terror or participate or aid in
Tytell’s lawyer, Asher Ohayon, told The Jerusalem Post that they
intended “100 percent” to appeal to the Supreme Court – “not 60%, not 70%” – and
that they intended to appeal “both the conviction and the sentence.”
May, the court accepted an unusual plea bargain between the district attorney
and lawyers representing Tytell, and determined that the defendant had murdered
two Palestinians and committed other violent crimes from
Judges Zvi Segal, Moshe Hacohen and Moshe Yair Drori said the
court had determined that Tytell had committed the acts attributed to him in an
That indictment includes 10 of the original 14
charges against the defendant – including two murders and two attempted murders
– as the prosecution agreed to remove charges relating to attempted attacks that
authorities succeeded in foiling, as well as general language describing
Tytell’s hatred for those who disagreed with or were different from him as the motivating
factor behind his crimes.
The court did not formally convict Tytell until
it had carefully reviewed whether he could be held criminally responsible for
Although he agreed to confess to the charges, Tytell
refused to physically plead guilty in court when he was convicted, because he
claimed he did not recognize the court’s authority.
Instead, in a highly
unusual procedure that required special court approval, Ohayon – with Tytell
present in the courtroom but refusing to take part – submitted an admission to
the charges in the amended indictment on his client’s behalf.
normally require that defendants confessing to crimes do so in-person in order
to safeguard their rights and ensure that they have not been coerced into
admission or confused about any element of their confession.
Florida-born Tytell, 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.
According to the indictment, in around May 1997,
when Tytell 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
He spent his first weeks in Israel with friends in
He managed to acquire bullets for his smuggled gun, and began
seeking out a suitable victim.
The indictment states that he chose to
murder an Arab taxi driver because he thought he could ask the driver first to
drive him to a suitable spot.
On June 8, 1997, he went to the Arab taxi
stand at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, the indictment says, where he hired Balbisi
and asked him to drive him to a hotel. After driving for a while, Tytell told
Balbisi to stop and wait, then proceeded to shoot the Palestinian man in the
head at point-blank range.
The indictment also charges Tytell 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
In 2000, Tytell made aliya and lived in Shvut Rahel, a West Bank
settlement north of Jerusalem, where he married and had four children. That
year, police arrested him on suspicion of carrying out both of the 1997 murders,
but later released him due to lack of evidence.
In March 2008, according
to the indictment, he attempted to murder 15-year-old Amiel Ortiz, a Messianic
Jewish teen from Ariel.
Tytell sent a bomb in a Purim gift basket to
Ortiz’s home, which exploded when the youth opened it.
include planting homemade explosives in September 2008 at the home of Prof.
Ze’ev Sternhell, a leftwing scholar from the Hebrew University of
Tytell also attempted to murder a resident of the Beit Jamal
monastery near Beit Shemesh because he believed its inhabitants were
missionaries who tried to convert Jewish children.
He attacked a police
station in 2006 during a gay pride parade.
Following his arrest in 2009,
he was remanded in 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 face prosecution.
Tytell’s lawyers had
previously argued that their client had not known right from wrong when he
committed the acts, and therefore the court could not impose a prison
There were even arguments that an “angel” had controlled his
actions, and at least one expert said that Tytell was insane. But the
prosecution successfully argued that Tytell was responsible for his actions when
committing the crimes.
The court said that it accepted another expert
opinion that regardless of whether Tytell may have had episodes of insanity
during his trial and imprisonment, if he had been insane years earlier when he
committed the crimes, he would have deteriorated to a far worse state in the
Based on the above and the rational manner in which
Tytell gave statements to police when arrested, the court agreed with the expert
that any episodes of insanity came after the crimes and during
On December 7, the court arrived at an interim conclusion
that Tytell was indeed sane and criminally responsible, a development that paved
the way for January’s conviction and Tuesday’s sentencing.