Jerusalem, Israel — A Jerusalem court on Thursday ruled against Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ruling that the terror group is responsible for the murder of at least seven Israeli teenagers, a court official said.
The verdict by the Jerusalem District Court is a rare legal setback for the terror organization that has killed scores of Israelis since its 2006 takeover of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The judges were unable to reach a consensus on the charges against the two leaders, who are both members of the Likud Party, which rules in Netanyahu’s ruling coalition.
“We have decided to find a legal remedy against the terrorist group Hamas and the prime minister,” Justice Ministry spokesman Roni Alsheikh told The Associated Press.
The teenagers were killed on Oct. 15 in the southern Israeli town of Beit She’an by an alleged Hamas bomb blast, in what was the deadliest attack on Israeli civilians since the war in Gaza ended in a truce in 2014.
In the days after the attack, the government called for a review of Israeli security forces’ use of deadly force.
“Today, a decision on the question of who carried out the murder has been made,” Alsheik said.
“It has been decided that the perpetrators of the murder must be held accountable for it.”
He said the decision is not a verdict on the role of Hamas.
Netanyahu has said that the teenagers were “terrorists” and that his government will “defend the lives of the children” killed.
The government is seeking to have the teens’ bodies exhumed, and the Palestinians have asked the Supreme Court to review the ruling.