Yaakov Jack Teitel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Yaakov Teitel, convicted of the murder of two Palestinians and various hate crimes, began a hunger strike in the Rimonim Prison on February 11 and is entering his tenth day on Tuesday.
Teitel contends that the Prison Service is denying him family visitations, an accusation the prison denies.
“The Israeli Prison Service has behaved insensitively with its refusal over something so basic and [Teitel] defends his children’s right to meet with him properly,” said Teitel’s attorney, Azriel Friedenberg, of the far-right Honenu legal defense organization.
Teitel contends that after a “sudden transfer” from Ayalon Prison to Rimonim, Israel’s largest maximum-security prison, his family visits were cut down to twice a month from three times per month, and now behind a glass window, where previously the visits were in the open.
“Teitel was moved to Rimonim prison as a management decision,” a spokeswoman for the Prison Service told The Jerusalem Post, “He says that after he was transferred his visitation was changed. The truth is that what he is asking for is more visitations than any other prisoner receives. There isn’t any reason to give him more visitations.”
According to the spokeswoman, prisoners are entitled to one visit every two months by law, but in general most receive one visit every other week.
Teitel was sentenced by the Jerusalem District Court in November 2015 to two life sentences and an additional 30 years in prison for the murdering of two Palestinians and an assortment of other crimes.
Right before the sentence was handed down, Teitel said that he had no regrets and was proud of what he had done.
In the lower court’s explanation of its verdict, despite Teitel saying that an “angel” had controlled him, the court found that Teitel was not insane and was responsible for his actions.
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. Later, he acquired bullets for his smuggled gun, and sought out a target 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 taxi stand at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, 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 pointblank range.
Teitel also murdered a second Palestinian man, Beduin shepherd Isaa Mousaaf Mahamada, who was shot dead near the West Bank settlement of Carmel, near Hebron, in August 1997.
In 2000, Teitel made aliya and lived in Shvut Rachel, a settlement north of Jerusalem, where he married and had four children.
In March 2008, according to the indictment, Teitel attempted to murder 15-year-old Amiel Ortiz, a messianic Jewish teen from Ariel.
Teitel sent a bomb in a Purim gift basket to Ortiz’s home, which exploded when the youth opened it.
Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.