The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday convicted Kafah Ghanimat for the murder of tourist Kristine Luken
in the mountains outside Jerusalem and Neta Sorek of Zichron Yaacov, whose body was found on February 2010 near the Beit Jamal Monastery outside Jerusalem.
Luken's body was discovered at a forest near Jerusalem in late December 2010, near the road connecting Beit Shemesh and Moshav Mata. A month later police said they uncovered a Palestinian cell responsible for the murder of the American tourist.
Ghanimat headed a cell of three Palestinians that committed multiple offences during the past few years, including attempted murders, burglary, assault, theft, arms trafficking and breaking and entering.
Ghanimat confessed to the murders as part of a plea bargain reached with the Jerusalem District Prosecution, in which it dropped another attempted murder charge and amended two other clauses in the case.
Last week, Justices Yaakov Zaban, Miriam Mizrahi and Rafi Carmel convicted another suspect in the case, Ibrahim Ghanimat, who also confessed to the murder of Luken. An indictment was also filed against two other members of the cell – Iyad Patpafa from the West Bank village of Tarqumiyah and another man from the village of Surif.
During the hearing, Luken's friend Kaye Susan Wilson testified
in front of the court, and recounted the moments of horror.
Wilson, who was almost killed that day as well, described the incident and burst out crying. "Kristine and I went walking in the forest," she recounted. "We walked up to a vantage point and sat on a rock.
Suddenly we saw two men bending over. I didn't understand what they were doing," Wilson said.
"They began to attack us. I fought back and managed to stab one of them, but then he pulled out a large knife. I saw Kristine trying to fight back. They held us for nearly a half and hour," she recounted in tears.