Israeli settler handed two life sentences for murdering Palestinians
Israeli settler Yaakov Teitel flashes the "V" for victory sign prior to the start of his trial at the Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday. (Photo: AFP - Ahmad Gharabli)
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An Israeli court sentenced a Jewish settler on Tuesday to two life terms in prison for the murder of two Palestinians in 1997.
Yaacov Teitel, 40, was found guilty in January of murdering a bus driver and a shepherd, as well as two separate attempted murders, illegal possession of weapons and incitement to violence.
The Jewish extremist was handed two life sentences by the Jerusalem District Court, one for each of his victims, and will have to pay compensation of $47,000 to each of their families.
Teitel was also sentenced to 30 years for the two murder attempts against Israelis and other offenses.
At a January hearing, the court ruled that Teitel was mentally competent when he carried out the offenses, and rejected his lawyers' arguments that their client had not been mentally stable and was therefore not guilty.
Teitel was arrested in 1997 after the murders of two Palestinians, and released shortly thereafter, a 2009 Haaretz article recounted. According to Haaretz, US-born Teitel told investigators that he had come to Israel “precisely to carry out attacks against Palestinians as revenge for suicide bombings.”
Teitel was living in the Jewish settlement of Shvut Rachel when he was arrested in 2009, over suspicions that he had carried out a bomb attack in 2008 on the home of Israeli professor Zeev Sternhell, wounding Sternhell.
He admitted in January to the attack against Sternhell and to having sent a parcel bomb to a Messianic Jewish couple that wounded their 15-year-old son, also in 2008.
Teitel admitted to all charges but refused to plead guilty, saying he was proud of what he had done, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Teitel, who immigrated from the United States, is also known for his hatred of homosexuals, having publicly pledged a $5,000 reward to anyone killing gay men and women and "ridding the earth of this Sodom and Gomorrah,” according to Ynet.
Settler violence against Palestinians is common in the West Bank, but killings are rare. The most infamous incident was the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, when an Israeli settler killed 29 Palestinians in a Hebron mosque.
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