Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Israeli settler Yaakov Teitel goes on trial for murder

Yaakov Teitel, Jewish settler accused of a series of murders and attacks
Police say Mr Teitel has confessed to murder of a Palestinian

The trial of a Jewish settler charged with two murders and a string of other attacks has begun in Jerusalem.

Yaakov Teitel, an American immigrant who lives in the West Bank, faces 14 charges, including two counts of murder and three of attempted murder.

Police called him a "Jewish terrorist" when he was arrested in October. His lawyer says he is mentally disturbed.

He refused to stand before the court or make statements, saying only "the Lord is king," Israeli media reported.

Relatives of Mr Teitel's alleged victims were present in court, Israeli media reported.

"My brother is gone, but Teitel must receive the punishment he deserves. Such a person should remain in prison all his life," Hani Balbisi told Israel News.

Police say Mr Teitel has confessed to killing Mr Balbisi's brother Samir, a Palestinian taxi driver, in 1997.


As he entered a previous court hearing in November, Mr Teitel said he had no regrets.

"It's been a pleasure and an honour to serve my God," he said, "God is proud of what I have done, I have no regrets".

Police say Mr Teitel, a 37-year-old and father of four, has confessed to the 1997 murder of a Palestinian taxi driver in East Jerusalem and a shepherd in the West Bank, which he told them were to avenge suicide bombings in Israel.

The charge sheet says some of the attacks were motivated by Mr Teitel's "hatred and objection" to individuals and groups whose lifestyles and ideology conflicted with his own.

Charges include: Premeditated murder, attempted murder, weapons violations, arson in grave circumstances, incitement to violence and terror and threatening from a motive of hostility against a specific group.

He is also accused of:

  • Placing a bomb near a convent west of Jerusalem, wounding a Palestinian, after previously attempting to set fire to the building
  • Sending a bomb disguised as a gift for the Jewish holiday of Purim to a family of messianic Jews - Jews who believe in Jesus as a saviour - seriously wounding a 15-year-old boy
  • A bomb attack which lightly wounded the left-wing Israeli academic Zeev Sternhell last year
  • Placing a bomb in a police station in an attempted attack which police say was aimed at diverting them from providing security for gay pride parades
  • Laying an explosive device next to a Palestinian home near the West Bank settlement of Eli
  • Putting poisonous antifreeze in three bottles of juice and leaving them near a Palestinian village in the hope of poisoning a passer-by.

He was arrested in Jerusalem after he was found giving out leaflets in the ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood praising an attack on a gay youth club in Tel Aviv in August that killed two people.

A large weapons cache was later found at his home in the West Bank settlement

Mr Teitel's lawyer, Adi Keidar, at the time said his client was "mentally disturbed" and believed he was an "emissary of the Lord" who was instructed to carry out the attacks by God.

He said Mr Teitel had confessed to attacks he did not commit, and therefore his confessions could not be relied on.

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