— Two Jewish teenagers were found guilty of murder by an Israeli court on Monday for their role in the kidnapping and killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian 16-year-old who was bludgeoned and burned to death in a Jerusalem forest in July 2014.
The episode enraged Palestinians and shocked Israelis, and it contributed to a spiral of violence that culminated in that summer’s 50-day war in Gaza
The court said that the hearings for the sentencing of the teenagers, who were not identified because they were minors at the time of the crime, would begin in mid-January. The court can formally convict minors only after the evaluation of an authorized social worker, according to the state prosecutor.
The Jerusalem District Court also determined that the main defendant, Yosef Haim Ben-David, 31, who is related to the two teenagers, had carried out the crimes he was charged with.
The court delayed issuing a verdict in his case, however, after his lawyer submitted a last-minute psychiatric evaluation raising doubts about his responsibility for his actions at the time of the crime, a development that added to Palestinian fury.
The court said in a statement that the psychiatric evaluation was submitted only days before a verdict was due, “contrary to proper and appropriate procedure,” and that Mr. Ben-David’s case would be discussed on Dec. 20.
Asher Ohayon, the public defender who represents Mr. Ben-David, told Israel
Radio that there were “real reasons” the evaluation was not submitted earlier, but he did not elaborate.
Hussein Abu Khdeir, Muhammad’s father, who attended the court hearings, has often said that he expected Mr. Ben-David would plead insanity and that he feared Mr. Ben-David would be treated with leniency.
Speaking to reporters outside the court immediately after Monday’s session, he said that Mr. Ben-David’s late-hour psychiatric report “made a joke of the court” and added, “My blood is boiling.”
Xavier Abu Eid, an adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization, wrote on Twitter that the case was “an example of how cheap Palestinian lives are for Israel.”
One of the teenagers was also convicted of attempting to kidnap a Palestinian boy, along with Mr. Ben-David, in the same area of East Jerusalem the night before Muhammad’s abduction, and of assaulting the boy and his mother.
The abduction and killing set off unrest in the predominantly Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem that continues to simmer.
A Palestinian youth identified as Ayman Sameeh Abbasi, 17, was killed late Sunday, apparently during clashes with Israeli forces in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood.
The Israeli police said that 10 firebombs were thrown at border officers on patrol in the area. The officers opened fire, the police said, aiming at the lower body of a suspect who was holding a lit firebomb.
The police said it was not clear whether the suspect was hit. A website run by local Palestinian activists published photographs of the dead youth with a large, bloody wound in his chest.
Muhammad, the Palestinian teenager, was snatched off a street near his home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, driven to a forest, beaten unconscious and burned to death in the early hours of July 2, 2014.
The adult suspect and his teenage relatives, all from Orthodox Jewish backgrounds, were arrested soon after the killing, and the Israeli authorities said they had acted in revenge for the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Palestinians as they were hitchhiking home from their yeshivas in the West Bank.
The bodies of the three Israeli teenagers — Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16 — were found after a wrenching 18-day search. They were buried in Israel, amid a national outpouring of grief, hours before the abduction and killing of Muhammad.
Mr. Ben-David and his young relatives admitted guilt and re-enacted the attack for investigators, the authorities said at the time. The three apparently acted on their own initiative and had no known links with any group.
In video images of the re-enactment shown by the prosecution during the trial, Mr. Ben-David was heard describing in detail the events of that night, but he refused to testify in court.
Mr. Ohayon, the public defender, said during the trial that his client was unable to remember his actions that night and was in “a state of denial.” The lawyer added that Mr. Ben-David was ashamed and regretted what he had done.
The teenagers’ defense rested on the argument that they had no idea when they set out to kidnap a Palestinian that the night would end in murder.
One of the teenagers remained in the car in the forest, where Muhammad was bludgeoned and set on fire, although he took part in the struggle to subdue their victim, who put up resistance during the journey. The other teenager admitted to helping douse Muhammad with gasoline.
Mr. Ben-David, who ran an eyeglasses store in Jerusalem and lived in the nearby West Bank settlement of Adam, had been treated with psychiatric drugs for years, having obsessive-compulsive disorder, among other illnesses, according to the document listing charges.
One of the two teenagers, a yeshiva dropout who temporarily worked in a toy store, also had obsessive-compulsive disorder and was on psychiatric medication, according to court documents. The other teenager was enrolled in school.