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May 3, 1:49 PM EDT

Israeli sentenced to life over killing of Palestinian teen

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JERUSALEM (AP) -- A Jerusalem court on Tuesday handed a life sentence to the main attacker in the killing of a Palestinian teenager in 2014 whose death helped spark a chain of events that led to that year's Gaza war.

The court sentenced Yosef Haim Ben David, 30, to life plus 20 years. The state prosecutor said the damage he caused Israel and the family of the Palestinian teen is "irreparable."

Ben David and two accomplices abducted 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir in his east Jerusalem neighborhood, drove to a forest and burned him to death in 2014. They said it was in revenge for three Israeli teens abducted and killed by Palestinians allied with the Islamic militant group Hamas earlier that summer.

The killing of Abu Khdeir was widely condemned in Israel, but fueled clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police.

Ben David expressed remorse in the courtroom. After the sentencing, the Abu Khdeir family yelled slurs at him. Hussein Abu Khdeir, father of the murdered teen, said he wants to "see him die in prison."

Hamas increased its rocket fire on Israel after the killing of the three Israeli teens prompted a crackdown on the group in the West Bank.

The violence escalated into the 50-day Gaza war, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, about a third of them civilians. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and seven civilians were killed.

Gaza has been mostly calm since then, but Israel said earlier on Tuesday that customs officials thwarted a plot to smuggle explosive materials into the Hamas-run territory.

Israel's Tax Authority said inspectors uncovered four tons of ammonium chloride- enough to produce hundreds of rockets- hidden inside sacks of salt about two weeks ago as the shipment was being transferred to Gaza. Militants in Gaza have fired thousands of rockets at Israel over the years.

"This case underscores the activity of Gaza-based terrorist organizations in smuggling dual-use materials disguised as goods destined for the civilian population and reconstruction projects," the Tax Authority said.

Along with explosives, ammonium chloride can be used in fertilizer and other products.

Israel's Shin Bet security service became suspicious after unusually large quantities of salt were ordered by a Gaza importer with ties to the Islamic militant group Hamas, the tax authority said.

Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2007 after Hamas seized power from forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Humanitarian aid and goods enter Gaza via Israeli crossings. Other goods are smuggled in through tunnels from neighboring Egypt.

Later on Tuesday, the military said a Palestinian rammed his vehicle into a group of Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, wounding three of them, one seriously. Soldiers at the scene opened fire and killed the attacker, it said.

Since mid-September, Palestinians have carried out dozens of assaults on civilians and security forces, killing 28 Israelis and two Americans. Some 200 Palestinians have been killed over the same period, the vast majority of whom Israel says were carrying out attacks or planning them.

Earlier Tuesday, the Israeli military demolished the home of a Palestinian attacker who gunned down two Israelis in front of their children in the West Bank last year.

Ziad Amer, the father of suspected killer Zeid, said Israeli troops in dozens of army vehicles raided the West Bank town of Nablus and demolished the family's apartment. He said his appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court against the demolition was rejected.

The military says Zeid Amer was part of a five-member Hamas cell that shot and killed U.S. citizen Eitam Henkin and his wife Naama as they drove in the northern West Bank on Oct. 1. Their four young children in the back of the car escaped unharmed.

Israel says it carries out housing demolitions to deter attacks. The Palestinians consider it a form of collective punishment.

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