Yosef Ben David, currently serving a life sentence, was the ringleader of the group which killed Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Testimony in the trial of the three alleged murderers of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Arab from the capital’s Shuafat neighborhood who was abducted, burned and brutally murdered last year while waiting to enter a mosque, began in the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday.
The three, Yosef Haim Ben-David, the ringleader, and two additional Jewish minors, allegedly 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.
One of the minors took the stand and said he “never dreamed” that they were going to kill Abu Khdeir, trying to place all of the blame on Ben-David, saying Ben-David was “like my father” and that he felt compelled to follow his lead.
In another dramatic moment, Ben-David’s lawyer said his client would not take the stand to defend himself against the allegations.
When asked by Judge Jacob Zaban if he understood that this was a major decision that could be held against him by the court, Ben-David, who unsuccessfully tried to plead insanity, did not appear to answer in a coherent manner.
Although Ben-David, 30, from the settlement of Adam, has been named as the leader of the three, the names of the minor defendants, one from Jerusalem and another from Beit Shemesh, remain under a gag order.
Following the indictment of the three, the Defense Ministry recognized Abu Khdeir as a victim of hostile action and granted his family compensation rights identical to those received by victims of Arab terrorism – assuming its decision is adopted by the National Insurance Institute.
The indictment stated that Ben-David drove the car, while both minors attacked Abu Khdeir and threw him into the vehicle.
Abu Khdeir tried to call his uncle, attempted to escape and even kicked one of the defendants in the face before they overpowered him, according to the indictment, which said the defendants partially strangled Abu Khdeir and struck him on the head multiple times, as Ben-David called out the names of murdered Jews such as Shalhevet Pas, the Fogel family, Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel.
Next, Ben-David allegedly told the minors to burn Abu Khdeir’s body to erase evidence, and they doused him with gasoline and started to burn him while he was still alive. Police found the teenager’s badly burned remains about one hour after he was reported kidnapped.