'Verdict won't bring the martyred back'

Friends of murdered yeshiva student say court's decision is just, but true justice can never be achieved in a case of murder.

Hezki Baruch ,

Friends and family at funeral of Ezra Schwartz
Friends and family at funeral of Ezra Schwartz

A military court handed down four consecutive life sentences to Mohammed Abdel Basset al-Kharoub on Sunday, for the murder of 18-year old American yeshiva student Ezra Schwartz, 51-year old Yaakov Don, and 24-year old Shadi Arafa during a terror attack in November, 2015.

"He calmly carried out the attack, causing the death of Yaakov. He then opened fire on the minibus, killing Ezra Schwartz," the court noted.

Al-Kharoub received a life sentence for each victim of his attack, and an additional life sentence for a number of attempted murders.

He was also required to pay 250,000 shekels ($69,000) to the families of each of the victims.

Friends of the murdered yeshiva student commented on the sentence, expressing satisfaction that the terrorist would likely never walk free again while lamenting the loss of their friend and fellow student.

"We witnessed authentic nobility in the face of inhuman cruelty,” said Rabbi Noah Cheses, rabbi of the Young Israel of Sharon Massachusetts, Schwartz’s congregation.

“We witnessed the fulfillment of "Tzedek Tzedek tirdof" - of trying to pursue justice. In a just way, as insufficient as the verdict was to us, it still had enabled us to hold our heads high with some dignity. And that's the Jewish way. That's what makes us different.

"We didn't get Ezra and Yaakov back - there's no true justice. But we're reassured that the State of Israel and the military court hold themselves to a standard of civility and dignity that is so rare and so uplifting and so inspiring.

"Inhumanity can be countered by humanity."

Michael Ben Zaken, a friend of Schwartz, expressed similar sentiments – praising the court’s decision, but adding that true justice was not possible for Schwartz or the other victims.

"We feel like it’s definitely very fair. Obviously nothing will be completely fair. But it’s definitely a good feeling that someone like that won't be out and about."