Israeli gets life for burning alive Palestinian teen

Israeli Yosef Haim Ben-David (C) the ringleader of the killing of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir in 2015, is escorted by Israeli policemen at the district court in Jerusalem on March 22, 2016, prior to hearing his psychiatric evaluation (AF
An Israeli court on Tuesday handed down a life sentence to the ringleader of a Jewish gang that kidnapped, beat and burned alive a Palestinian teenager in 2014.
Barely two hours later, a Palestinian rammed a car into a group of Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank and injured three, including one seriously.
Settler Yosef Haim Ben-David, 31, was sentenced in a Jerusalem court for killing 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir, and was also given 20 years for other crimes.
He was also told to pay 150,000 shekels ($39,000, 34,000 euros) to Abu Khdeir\’s family.
After the verdict, angry relatives of the victim cursed Ben-David as he was led from the court.
Ben-David, wearing a burgundy yarmulke and a black shirt, had earlier told the court he was "sorry".
"I am sorry for the family. This is not me. I wasn\’t in control," he said.
Ben-David and two young accomplices kidnapped Abu Khdeir from Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem on July 2, 2014 and beat him up.
His burned body was found hours later in a forest in the western part of the city.
A forensic report showed the presence of smoke in his lungs, indicating that the boy had been alive when set alight.
Ben-David was found in November to have led the assault, but his lawyers submitted last-minute documents saying he was mentally ill.
A court rejected that appeal last month, ruling that he was sane at the time of the attack.
In February, a court sentenced his two young Israeli accomplices to life and 21 years in prison for the killing, but Ben-David was seen to be the ringleader.
Abu Khdeir\’s father Hussein, speaking before Tuesday\’s verdict, said no punishment would be enough.
"Whatever they decide, our wounds will not heal — the boy will not come back," he told AFP.
His brutal murder in 2014 shocked Israelis and Palestinians alike, and contributed to an escalation in violence that culminated in the 50-day Gaza war that summer in which more than 2,000 Palestinians and 73 Israelis died.
Israeli authorities said the three decided to kill an Arab and equipped themselves with cables, petrol and other materials before choosing Abu Khdeir at random.
They had tried to kidnap a child in east Jerusalem the previous day, but were thwarted by the child\’s mother.
Abu Khdeir\’s murder was seen as revenge for the killing of Israeli teenagers Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach, who had been abducted from a hitchhiking stop near the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron.
The last-minute insanity appeal by Ben-David, made just minutes before the end of the trial in November, also caused dismay among Abu Khdeir\’s family, who said they feared a miscarriage of justice.
Ben-David\’s lawyers said their client, who claimed to the "Messiah", was not criminally responsible for his actions, but the claim was rejected.
"This is an evil and cruel man who does not represent our civilised society," state prosecutor Uri Korb said at the hearing, adding that the killing "brought shame upon our society and offended our values".
The ruling came with tensions once again high on Tuesday.
A Palestinian from a refugee camp near Ramallah in the West Bank rammed his car into a group of Israeli soldiers, injuring three of them before being shot dead.
"Forces responded to the imminent threat and fired towards the assailant, resulting in his death," a statement from the army said.
Israel\’s Magen David Adom rescue service said one of those hit by the car had been badly injured.
The Palestinian health ministry named the attacker as 36-year-old Ahmed Shahaada from the Qalandia refugee camp.
Earlier, Israeli police said they had arrested a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem\’s Old City suspected of stabbing a Jewish man there late on Monday.
The victim, described by police as "a Jewish male, aged about 60", was said by Jerusalem\’s Shaarei Tzedek hospital to be in stable condition after treatment for a damaged lung.
Since October 1, 204 Palestinians and 28 Israelis have been killed in an ongoing wave of violence.
Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, Israeli authorities say.
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