Three Israelis found guilty of Palestinian teen's murder

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Three Israelis Confess to Revenge Killing of Palestinian Teen


JERUSALEM, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Two Jewish minors were found guilty on Monday of the 2014 murder of a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem, but the Israeli court held off on formally convicting a third man accused of orchestrating the crime, pending a psychological review.

Prosecutors said the three had confessed to abducting, bludgeoning, strangling and burning Mohammed Abu Khudair, 16, in revenge for the killing days earlier of three Israeli youths by Hamas militants in the occupied West Bank.

The incidents touched off a wave of bloodshed culminating in the seven-week Gaza war.

See photos of continued violence in the West Bank:

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Violence in Israel and the West Bank escalates, bus stabbing, Jerusalem
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Three Israelis found guilty of Palestinian teen's murder
Palestinian protesters run for cover from tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers during clashes, after the funerals of Ahmed Abu al-Aish, 28, and Laith Manasrah, 21, from Qalandia refugee camp, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Two Palestinians were killed and three wounded in clashes with Israeli troops early Monday in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Jerusalem area, a Palestinian health official said. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians carry an injured man during clashes with Israeli troops, after the funerals of Ahmed Abu al-Aish, 28, and Laith Manasrah, 21, from Qalandia refugee camp, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Two Palestinians were killed and three wounded in clashes with Israeli troops early Monday in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Jerusalem area, a Palestinian health official said. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Israeli troops fire tear gas during clashes with Palestinian demonstrators near Ramallah, West Bank, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015. Tensions and violence have been mounting in recent weeks, in part fueled by Palestinian fears that Israel is trying to expand its presence at a major Muslim-run shrine in Jerusalem, a claim Israel has denied. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians carry an injured man during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for calm during a surprise visit to Jerusalem on Tuesday ahead of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, in a high-profile gambit to bring an end to a monthlong wave of violence.(AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians burn tires during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015. Tensions and violence have been mounting in recent weeks, in part fueled by Palestinian fears that Israel is trying to expand its presence at a major Muslim-run shrine in Jerusalem, a claim Israel has denied.(AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Israeli border police check Palestinian woman ID next to newly placed concrete blocks in east Jerusalem neighborhood, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. Israel erected checkpoints and deployed several hundred soldiers in the Palestinian areas of the city Wednesday as it stepped up security following a series of attacks in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
A Palestinian hurls a stone during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. Violence quickly spread across Israel and into the West Bank and Gaza Strip after clashes erupted last month over tensions regarding the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City. Clashes continued Wednesday between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters in West Bank cities. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A Palestinian protester throws back a tear gas canister that was fired by Israeli troops during clashes near Ramallah, West Bank, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. In the current wave of violence, eight Israelis have been killed in stabbing and shooting attacks, as of Thursday. Thirty-one Palestinians have been killed, including 14 identified by Israel as attackers, and the others in clashes between stone-throwers and Israeli troops. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A Palestinian swings a sling during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. Violence quickly spread across Israel and into the West Bank and Gaza Strip after clashes erupted last month over tensions regarding the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City. Clashes continued Wednesday between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters in West Bank cities. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinian mourners carry the body of Moataz Zawahara, who was killed in clashes with Israeli troops, during his funeral in Deheisha refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Two Palestinian women mourn during the funeral of Moataz Zawahara, who was killed in clashes with Israeli troops, at the family house in Deheisha refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Palestinians carry a wounded youth during clashes with Israeli soldiers securing the entrance of the Erez border crossing between Gaza Strip and Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks that escalated a month long wave of violence. Two Israelis and one attacker were killed. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinian's try to help a demonstrator who accidentally set his scarf on fire during clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Hebron. Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks Tuesday that escalated a monthlong wave of violence. Three Israelis and two attackers were killed. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men gather around the body of Yeshayahu Kirshavski during his funeral in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks Tuesday. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - OCTOBER 13: (ISRAEL OUT) In this handout from the Israeli GPO, Ultra Orthodox ZAKA volunteers and security forces attend the scene of an attack at a bus stop in Malchei Yisrael Street on October 13, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. Multiple terror attacks have occurred in Jerusalem and central Israel leaving at least three Israelis dead and many others injured, escalating a monthlong wave of violence between Israel and the Palestinians. (Photo by Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO via Getty Images)
Israeli Zaka volunteers carry a body following a shooting attack on a bus in an east Jerusalem Jewish settlement adjacent to the Palestinian neighbourhood of Jabal Mukaber on October 13, 2015. Two attackers opened fire on a bus while another assailant carried out a car and knife assault in Jerusalem, leaving two people dead and five wounded in two separate incidents, Israeli authorities said. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX (Photo credit should read THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli ZAKA emergency response members carry the body of a Palestinian at the scene of a shooting attack in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks that escalated a month long wave of violence. Two Israelis and one attacker were killed. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Israeli Zaka volunteers carry the body of an Israeli victim following a Palestinian shooting attack on a bus in the east Jerusalem Jewish settlement of Armon Hanatsiv, adjacent to the Palestinian neighbourhood of Jabal Mukaber, on October 13, 2015. Two Palestinian attackers opened fire on a bus while another assailant carried out a car and knife assault in Jerusalem, leaving two people dead and five wounded in two separate incidents, Israeli authorities said. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
An Israeli police officer inspects the body of a Palestinian at the scene of a shooting attack in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks that escalated a month long wave of violence. Two Israelis and one attacker were killed. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Israeli security forces inspect the scene after a Palestinian man drove into a bus stop and carried out a stabbing attack in a Jerusalem ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood on October 13, 2015. The Jerusalem attack came after a Palestinian stabbed and wounded a passerby north of Tel Aviv before being restrained by civilians in the area. AFP PHOTO / GIL COHEN-MAGEN (Photo credit should read GIL COHEN MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli medics carry a wounded person at the scene of a shooting attack in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks that escalated a month long wave of violence. Two Israelis and one attacker were killed. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Israeli ZAKA emergency response members stand next to the body of an Israeli victim at the scene of a shooting attack in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks that escalated a monthlong wave of violence. Two Israelis and one attacker were killed. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Palestinians uses a handmade large slingshot to hurl a stone during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. Recent days have seen a series of stabbing attacks in Israel and the West Bank that have wounded several Israelis. Past weeks have also seen violent demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza, and at least 16 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A lawyer wearing his official robes kicks a tear gas canister back toward Israeli soldiers during a demonstration by scores of Palestinian lawyers called for by the Palestinian Bar Association in solidarity with protesters at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, near Ramallah, West Bank, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. In recent weeks, at least 25 Palestinians, including nine attackers, have been killed by Israeli forces, while five Israelis have been killed in attacks. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Mourners take a last at look the body of Palestinian teenager Ahmad Sharaka, 13, who was shot dead by Israeli military forces during clashes at a checkpoint near Ramallah on Sunday, at the family house during his funeral in the Palestinian West Bank refugee camp of Jalazoun, Ramallah, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. On Sunday, Ramallah Government Hospital director Ahmed Bitawi said Ahmad Sharaka was shot dead by three live bullets to the head, neck and chest. The Israeli military had no immediate comment. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
An injured Palestinian demonstrator is helped during clashes at the Hawara checkpoint near of the West Bank city of Nablus, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015. Tensions in he West Bank continued with near-daily violent demonstrations. At least 45 Palestinians were wounded by live bullets in clashes between university students and Israeli forces at the military checkpoint near Nablus on Sunday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
Palestinians carry the body of Mohammed al-Jaabari during his funeral in Hebron Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. al-Jaabari was killed after he attacked an Israeli policeman outside Kiryat Arba settlement Friday, according to Israeli police. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
Palestinians run from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during clashes near Ramallah, West Bank, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. Palestinians carried out two stabbing attacks in Jerusalem on Saturday before being shot dead by police, the latest in a series of stabbing attacks against civilians and soldiers that have spread across Israel and the West Bank in the past week. The violence, including the first apparent revenge attack by an Israeli Friday and increasing protests by Israel's own Arab minority, has raised fears of the unrest spiraling further out of control. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians take cover during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. Recent days have seen a string of attacks by young Palestinians with no known links to armed groups who have targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians at random, complicating Israeli efforts to contain the violence, which has been linked to tensions over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Israeli security forces deploy a water canon during clashes with Palestinians near Ramallah, West Bank, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. Recent days have seen a string of attacks by young Palestinians with no known links to armed groups who have targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians at random, complicating Israeli efforts to contain the violence, which has been linked to tensions over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A Palestinian is pushed an Israeli policemen amid clashes in Hebron, West Bank, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. A Palestinian teenager stabbed two Israelis in Jerusalem Saturday before being shot dead by police forces, the latest in a series of stabbing attacks against civilians and soldiers that have spread across Israel and the West Bank in the past week. The violence, including the first apparent revenge attack by an Israeli Friday and increasing protests by Israel's own Arab minority, has raised fears of the unrest spiraling further out of control. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
Israeli troops take aim during clashes with Palestinians, near Ramallah, West Bank, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. Recent days have seen a string of attacks by young Palestinians with no known links to armed groups who have targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians at random, complicating Israeli efforts to contain the violence, which has been linked to tensions over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians carry a wounded man, who flashes a victory sign, as others run for a cover, during clashes with with Israeli soldiers on the Israeli border, Eastern Gaza City, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. At least four attacks â three by Palestinians and one by an Israeli â as well as deadly clashes along the Gaza border threatened to escalate tensions throughout the country on Friday as Israel struggled to control spiraling violence. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians carry the body of Mohammed al-Jaabari during his funeral in Hebron Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. al-Jaabari was killed after he attacked an Israeli policeman outside Kiryat Arba settlement Friday, according to Israeli police. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
A Palestinian protester films with his mobile phone, during clashes with Israeli soldiers on the Israeli border Eastern Gaza City, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. At least four attacks â three by Palestinians and one by an Israeli â as well as deadly clashes along the Gaza border threatened to escalate tensions throughout the country on Friday as Israel struggled to control spiraling violence. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A masked Palestinian hurls rocks towards Israeli soldiers during clashes following the funeral of Mohammed Fares al-Jaabari on October 10, 2015, in the center of the West Bank town of Hebron. Israeli security forces have arrested approximately 400 Palestinians since the October 1 outbreak of violence in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem, the Palestinian Prisoner Club said. AFP PHOTO / HAZEM BADER (Photo credit should read HAZEM BADER/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli policemen watch a Palestinian man pray outside Jerusalem's Old City Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. At least four attacks, three by Palestinians and one by an Israeli, as well as deadly clashes along the Gaza border threatened to escalate tensions throughout the country on Friday as Israel struggled to control spiraling violence. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Palestinians carry a wounded youth during clashes with Israeli soldiers on the Israeli border Eastern Gaza City, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. At least four attacks â three by Palestinians and one by an Israeli â as well as deadly clashes along the Gaza border threatened to escalate tensions throughout the country on Friday as Israel struggled to control spiraling violence. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Israeli soldiers detain a wounded Palestinian stone thrower after infiltrated members of the Israeli security forces shot at fellow protesters during clashes in Beit El, on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Ramallah, on October 7, 2015. New violence rocked Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including a stabbing in annexed east Jerusalem, even as Israel and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas took steps to ease tensions. AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI (Photo credit should read ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
A masked Palestinian protester stands amid smoke of burning tires during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
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The verdicts, and eventual sentencing, could stoke tensions that are already high over access to a major Jerusalem mosque complex that Jews revere as vestige of their two ancient temples.

Jerusalem District Court ruled that the two underaged defendants, whose names were withheld from publication, carried out the crime. Under Israeli law, minors cannot technically be convicted before a review board endorses the verdict.

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Yosef Haim Ben-David, a West Bank settler who works as a Jerusalem optician and who confessed to leading the crime, was also found guilty. But the court deferred formal conviction over his lawyers' 11th-hour request for a psychological evaluation.

"How can the defendant, two days ago, a year and a half after the crime, bring a document claiming insanity?" the youth's father, Hussein Abu Khudair, told reporters. "It's all lies and I worry that the court will free them in the end."

Ayman Odeh, a senior lawmaker from Israel's Arab minority, said: "The state is sending a clear message of forgiveness and understanding when it comes to Jewish terror."

While adult murder convicts generally get lengthy jail terms in Israel, comparable sentences are not mandatory for minors. Court spokesmen did not immediately give dates for the defendants' review hearings or sentencing.

Israeli officials welcomed Monday's verdict as a warning against hate crimes, which have surged as repeated bouts of violence eclipse peace talks with the Palestinians deadlocked since early 2014.

"The court determined unequivocally today that the three defendants committed the barbaric crime of abducting an innocent person only because of his origin, and burning him alive," said state prosecutor Uri Korb, vowing to contest any insanity plea.

"When we try to claim that we are better than our enemies - and I think that we are better than them - we should look at this event as a mirror," he said. "As a society we will continue to fight all avengers and lynchers, as we did in this case." (Writing by Dan Williams Editing by Ori Lewis and Alison Williams)

Related: Palestinian assailant stabs Israeli citizens at Tel Aviv office building:

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Tel Aviv stabbing, West Bank attack leave 5 killed
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Three Israelis found guilty of Palestinian teen's murder
Israeli police gather at the site of a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv on November 19, 2015. The attack killed two people, while the Palestinian assailant was injured and arrested, Israeli police said, in the first such incident in several days. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli police investigates the scene of an stabbing attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015. A Palestinian man fatally stabbed two Israeli men in a Tel Aviv office building on Thursday before being apprehended, police said. (AP Photo/Moti Milrod) ISRAEL OUT
Israeli security forces patrol the surroundings of a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv on November 19, 2015. The attack killed two people, while the Palestinian assailant was injured and arrested, Israeli police said, in the first such incident in several days. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli security forces arrest a wounded Palestinian man who carried out a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv on November 19, 2015. The attack killed two people, while the Palestinian assailant was injured and arrested, Israeli police said, in the first such incident in several days. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli police arrest a Palestinian identified as Raed Khalil bin Mahmoud, a 36-year-old from the West Bank village of Dura in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015. Bin Mahmoud fatally stabbed two Israeli men in a Tel Aviv office building on Thursday before being apprehended, police said. (AP Photo/Moti Milrod) ISRAEL OUT
Israeli forensic police inspect the site of a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv on November 19, 2015. The attack killed two people, while the Palestinian assailant was injured and arrested, Israeli police said, in the first such incident in several days. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli security forces arrest a wounded Palestinian man who carried out a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv on November 19, 2015. The attack killed two people, while the Palestinian assailant was injured and arrested, Israeli police said, in the first such incident in several days. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli forensic police inspect the site of a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv on November 19, 2015. The attack killed two people, while the Palestinian assailant was injured and arrested, Israeli police said, in the first such incident in several days. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli security forces evacuate a wounded Palestinian man who carried out a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv on November 19, 2015. The attack killed two people, while the Palestinian assailant was injured and arrested, Israeli police said, in the first such incident in several days. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, Nov. 19, 2015 -- Israeli police apprehend a suspected man to check whether he has connections with a stabbing attack near the attack scene in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Nov. 19, 2015. A knife-wielding Palestinian on a stabbing spree killed two Israeli men and injured another at a chapel on Tel Aviv's seafront on Thursday. Police identified the suspect as 24-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank Dura, a village in southwest of Hebron. His name was not immediately released, but Channel 2 TV news reported he had no previous record of involvement in acts of terror. (Xinhua/JINI via Getty Images)
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