(JTA) – The chief suspect in the murder of Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir described the killing in testimony released by Israel’s police.
In the account released Tuesday, Yosef Haim Ben-David, 29, describes setting out on the night of July 2 with two 16-year-old accomplices to avenge the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in June. The three first planned to burn a Palestinian-owned store, but then decided to kidnap a Palestinian. The previous night, they had failed in an attempt to kidnap a 7-year-old Palestinian boy.
“We talked and decided to take it up a notch,” he told investigators, according to Israeli reports. “We said, ‘They took three of ours, let’s take one of theirs,’ and we decided to pick someone up, to kidnap him, beat him up and throw him out.”
According to the testimony, the suspects filled two bottles with gasoline at a West Bank gas station. They then saw Abu Khdeir, 14, on the road, and asked him for directions to Tel Aviv before seizing him and forcing him into their car. When Abu Khdeir fought back, the two 16-year-old suspects strangled him until he lost consciousness.
The suspects then took the teen to the Jerusalem Forest, where they doused him with gasoline and set him on fire after Ben-David beat him with a crowbar. They then drove to a Jerusalem park, where they burned their clothing. Ben-David, who is pleading temporary insanity in the case, says that afterward, the three regretted killing Abu Khdeir.
The names of Ben-David’s two accomplices have not been released.