The court found that Kawasmeh planned the abduction in which Eyal Yifrach, 19, and Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, both 16, were shot dead while hitchhiking in the West Bank in June.
The three teens were abducted on June 12, 2014, as they made their way home at the Alon Shvut hitchhiking stop in Gush Etzion. They were apparently murdered close to the site of the kidnapping, but their bodies were only found 18 days later, during searches that involved thousands of soldiers and volunteers.
In addition to 75 years in prison, Kawasmeh was also ordered to pay each family a quarter of a million shekels in compensation.
Lt. Col. Menahem Lieberman, who served as chief of the judging panel, explained the decision: “The accused murdered in cold blood three boys who wanted to go home. The boys’ lives were cut short in a moment, and their families’ lives changed beyond recognition.
“His malicious plan to carry out a negotiation failed,” Lieberman added. “The abduction was like an earthquake that rocked the region. The goal was strategic, to lead to the release of prisoners, but caused massive damage to society.”
The judge ruled that “this is one of the most severe cases of a murder and kidnapping. It majorly affected the security situation. The accused brought direct damage to society as a whole, on the level of security, it led to a wave of arrests and changed the security situation."
The military prosecution demanded that dozens of years be added to Kawasmeh’s sentence and compensations totaling millions of shekels to the families, because of the other offenses he committed while planning his crimes. However, the military court rejected these requests.
Avraham Frenkel, Naftali’s father, spoke at the beginning of the hearing. “In contrast to ordinary murders, if such a thing exists, there were 18 days between the murder and discovery of the bodies,” he said.
“It’s very important to me to emphasize that I’m not coming from the position of the victim, but of course it’s extremely difficult to lose a son, brother, or grandson. We are a family of eight, six brothers and sisters. The incident affects every one of us.”