The Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday convicted the “Jewish terrorist” Jack
Teitel of murdering two Palestinians and an assortment of other
Crucially, despite Teitel saying that an “angel” had controlled
him, the court found that he was not insane and was “responsible for his
actions,” which made it more likely that he will get a maximum life
In May, the court had accepted an unusual plea bargain made
between the district attorney and lawyers representing Teitel, and determined
that the defendant had murdered two Palestinians and committed other violent
crimes from 1997 to 2008.
Judges Zvi Segal, Moshe Hacohen and Moshe Yair
Drori said the court determined that Teitel committed the acts attributed to him
in an amended indictment.
This indictment includes 10 of the original 14
charges against him, including two murders and two attempted murders, after the
prosecution agreed to remove charges relating to attempted attacks that the
authorities had foiled and general language about Teitel’s hatred for those who
disagreed with or were different from him being the motivator for his
The court did not formally convict Teitel until Wednesday after
carefully review whether he could be held criminally responsible for his actions
when he committed the offenses.
Although he agreed to admit to the
charges, Teitel refused to plead guilty in court because he does not recognize
Instead, in a highly unusual procedure that required
special court approval, his attorney Asher Ohayon told the court that Teitel
admitted to the charges in the amended indictment.
require an accused to admit to an offense in-person as a safeguard to his
rights, to be sure he has not been coerced, or is confused about what he is
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
According 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
Teitel spent his first weeks in Israel with friends in
Later, he acquired bullets for his smuggled gun, and sought
out a suitable victim.
The indictment said Teitel chose to murder an Arab
taxi driver because he thought he could ask the driver to first drive him to a
On June 8, 1997, Teitel went to the Arab taxi stand at
Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, the indictment said, where he hired Balbisi and told
him to take him to a hotel.
After driving for a while, however, Teitel
told Balbisi to stop and wait, before shooting the Palestinian in the head at
The indictment 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
In 2000, Teitel made aliya and lived in Shvut Rachel, a West Bank
settlement north of Jerusalem, where he married and had four children. Also in
2000, 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-yearold Amiel Ortiz,
a Messianic (i.e. Christian) Jewish teen from Ariel.
Teitel sent a bomb
in a Purim gift basket to Ortiz’s home, which exploded when the youth opened
Other charges include planting homemade explosives in September 2008
at the home of Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell, a left-wing scholar from the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem.
Teitel 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, 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 face prosecution.
lawyers argued that their client did not know right from wrong when he committed
the acts, and therefore the court could not impose a prison term.
were even arguments that an “angel” had controlled his actions and at least one
expert said that Teitel was insane. But the prosecution successfully argued that
Teitel was responsible for his actions when committing the crimes.
court said that it accepted another expert opinion that regardless of whether
Teitel 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 far more by this time.
Rather, based on the above and the
rational manner in which Teitel gave statements to police when arrested, the
court agreed with the expert that any episodes of insanity came after the crimes
and during imprisonment.
The court made an interim finding that Teitel
was sane and criminally responsible on December 7, but the final formal
conviction with all of its legal consequences was not announced until Wednesday.