A West Bank military court on Monday sentenced a Palestinian terrorist to two consecutive life sentences for the 2015 murder of an Israeli student outside the settlement of Dolev and the attempted murder of another man.
Israel’s military prosecutor last year convicted Muhammad Abu Shaheen on charges of murder and attempted murder for shooting 25-year-old Danny Gonen and his friend at point-blank range as they drove away from the Ein Bubin spring northwest of Jerusalem.
Gonen was rushed to a Tel Aviv hospital in critical condition, but died of his wounds shortly after. His friend, Netanel Hadad, was injured in the attack.
The Judea Military Court handed the 31-year-old Fatah member one life sentence for each charge.
The court also ordered he pay the Gonen family NIS 3.5 million ($900,000) in compensation.
In the ruling, the judges noted that Shaheen’s “cruel and calculated attack was motivated by nationalism and extremist ideology.”
The judges recommended Shaheen be ineligible for early release under a potential prisoner swap with Palestinians.
Ahead of the sentencing, Gonen’s mother, who has campaigned in favor of a bill limiting foreign funding to NGOs, wrote an open letter to her murdered son, excoriating the Palestinian Authority for paying salaries to the families of terrorists and Israel for tolerating the practice.
“Today, we are coming to protest. To protest against the situation where bereaved families need to cry out loud with no one to stand behind them,” Devorah Gonen wrote.
“No one can erase your smile that touched so many people. They thought that they can defeat us. But today we will prove to them that this will not happen,” her letter said.
In June 2015, Shaheen flagged down Gonen’s car in the vicinity of the Ein Bubin spring, seemingly asking for help.
When the Israelis pulled their car over, he pulled a gun out of a bag he was carrying and opened fire at point-blank range, fatally wounding Gonen and wounding Hadad.
After his arrest in July that year, Shin Bet investigators said Shaheen confessed to killing Gonen and to carrying out six other shooting attacks over the course of the previous year, including one near Jerusalem that that moderately injured an IDF soldier.
Later in 2015, IDF soldiers demolishing the Shaheen’s family home in Qalandia clashed with Palestinians in the West Bank refugee camp, killing two.