An Israeli military court on Tuesday handed three life sentences to a Palestinian militant convicted of organising the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers.
Hossam Qawasme, 41, was also ordered to pay 250,000 shekels ($63,000/53,000 euros) in compensation to each of the three families at a hearing at Ofer military court near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Qawasme was arrested in connection with organising and financing the June 12 kidnapping of the three teenagers that triggered a series of events which led to a deadly 50-day war in Gaza.
“The accused was convicted of the most serious crimes .. the cold-blooded and terrible murder of three young people who were going home to their families,” court documents said.
“As a result of his actions, the accused is sentenced to three life terms. He will be removed from society and spend the rest of his life in prison. In addition he will pay compensation of 250,000 shekels to each of the families of the youths.”
He was convicted last week on charges of “participating in the kidnapping and murder of Naftali Frenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaer on June 12,” an Israeli army statement said.
His two accomplices, Amer Abu Eisha, 32, and Marwan Qawasme, 29, who the army says carried out the attack, were shot dead during an exchange of fire with Israeli soldiers in the southern West Bank city of Hebron in late September.
Israel blamed the bloodshed on Hamas, but although the Islamist movement hailed the attack, it said the three were operating independently.
The June abduction of the three teens from a hitchhiking stop near Hebron sparked a massive manhunt in which hundreds of Palestinians were arrested and at least five killed.
The operation triggered a surge in rocket fire from Gaza that ultimately led to a July-August war which left nearly 2,200 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians, and 73 in Israel, mostly soldiers.