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Israeli military court gives four Palestinians life sentences

Exclusive to The Middle East Online

Edited by Nelly Tawil

Four Palestinians were given life sentences in an Israeli military court on Wednesday after gunning down an Israeli couple in front of their children in the West Bank last year.

According to the military the four were members of the Islamic militant group Hamas and shot dead Eitam and Naama Henkin as they drove through the West Bank last October. Their four children, including a fourth-month-old infant, were in the car at the time and witness to the attack, the children remained physically unharmed. Eitam was an American citizen.

Dozens of attacks have been carried out by Palestinians over the past nine months, including stabbings, shootings and car ramming assaults, killing 32 Israelis and two visiting Americans. 200 Palestinians have been killed during that time. Israel has identified most of them as attackers while the rest died in clashes with Israeli troops.

The escalation in violence has resulted in calls for reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which last broke down in 2014.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome next week, Netanyahu’s office said, without providing further details. Israeli media have reported that the two will discuss efforts to restart peace talks.

France has proposed an international peace conference, an initiative rejected by Netanyahu, who says a deal can only be reached by direct negotiations between the two sides. The Palestinians have welcomed the French initiative.

The Quartet of Mideast mediators — the U.N., U.S., EU and Russia — are finalizing a report on the conflict expected to be critical of Israel.