A Palestinian youth was granted four life sentences by an Israeli military court on Thursday for murdering three family members in a West Bank settlement last July.
Omar al-Abed, 19, was convicted in December by the Ofer Military Court in West Bank of three counts of murder for stabbing to death Yosef Salomon, his daughter Chaya and son Elad in their family home in the settlement of Halamish.
Additionally, he was convicted of attempted murder of Yosef’s wife, incitement and stone-throwing.
The court sentenced him to four life terms and ordered him to pay the Salomon family 1.8 million shekels (about 511,000 dollars) in damages.
A military spokesperson said in a statement sent to Xinhua that the judges discussed a possibility of sentencing al-Abed to death, a move that has never been taken in Israel.
One judge in the three-seat panel decided that al-Abed should receive the death sentence, the spokesperson said.
“Throughout the trial, I watched him (al-Abed) enjoys himself and grinning, even doing so in front of the family,” Judge Dov Gilboa wrote in his dissenting opinion.
“The defendant’s punishment is the death sentence,” Gilboa wrote.
Al-Abed, a resident in the village of Kobar in the central West Bank, said he carried out the attack “for al-Aqsa,” a mosque and a major holy Muslim compound in East Jerusalem, which was at the centre of a Palestinian uprising after Israel installed new metal detectors at the entrance to the compound.
Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a vocal proponent of death penalty for Palestinian assailants, wrote on his Facebook page that “no number of life sentences would suffice to punish” al-Abed.
Under Israeli military law, a military court could sentence a person to death if all judges in the panel reach an agreement.
Such penalty was never made.
However, over the past months, ultra-nationalist lawmakers and government ministers have increased their calls to allow both military and civil courts to sentence Palestinian attackers to death.
The calls come amidst a wave of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, which have killed hundreds of Palestinians and dozens of Israelis since 2015.