JERUSALEM, (Reuters) – An Israeli military court sentenced two members of Palestinian militant group Hamas’s armed wing to life imprisonment for killing eight Israelis in a series of attacks, the army said on Friday.
The two, who carried out the attacks between 2001 and 2003, were arrested in 2003 and were sentenced on Thursday, an Israeli military spokeswoman said.
Ofer Military Court sentenced Jaser al-Barghouthi, a member of Hamas’s armed wing Izz el-Deen al-Qassam, to eight life sentences to run consecutively for the killing of eight Israelis including soldiers. He received a further life sentence on other charges including attempted murder, the court said.
Murad al-Barghouthi, a member of Izz el-Deen al-Qassam, received nine life sentences and an additional 30 years in jail to run consecutively.
Hamas is sworn to Israel’s destruction and carried out nearly 60 suicide bombings against Israelis during a Palestinian uprising that began in 2000. In recent months its armed wing has fired homemade rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
Peace talks collapsed in 2000 before the start of the uprising and dimmed further when Hamas came to power in March after defeating Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement in elections.
Israel says it cannot consider dealing with Hamas until the group recognises its right to exist, disarms and accepts Israeli-Palestinian interim peace deals.
Earlier this year, a Hamas Web site reported that Jaser al-Barghouthi’s cell received funding and training from the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, a link long denied by Hamas leaders.
The Web site said Barghouthi set up the first Hamas cell in the occupied West Bank after the uprising began in 2000. Barghouthi had sent emissaries to Lebanon, it added.
Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid in July which led to a month-long war between its guerrillas and the Jewish state that cost the lives of about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in Lebanon, and 157 Israelis, mostly soldiers.