updated 9/27/2006 4:35:02 PM ET 2006-09-27T20:35:02

A Jewish settler convicted of murdering four Palestinians and injuring a fifth in an attack he hoped would prevent Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip last year was sentenced Wednesday to four consecutive life terms plus an additional 12 years in prison.

Asher Weisgen, who shot the men near the West Bank settlement of Shilo in 2005, also was ordered to pay $53,000 to the families of those he killed and $23,000 to Rauhi Kassab, who survived the attack.

“This was a particularly ugly crime. No one can take the law into his own hand,” Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen said.

Cohen said that monetary penalties in cases like this were rare.

Weisgen, who lived in Shvut Rachel, an unauthorized West Bank outpost north of Jerusalem, said he killed the men in an effort to stop the Gaza pullout by sparking a wave of retaliatory terror attacks by Palestinian militants that would force Israeli troops to divert their activities away from the withdrawal.

Just one day before the pullout began, Weisgen drove four Palestinian laborers home from an aluminum factory where he worked with them. He stopped his car at the Shilo checkpoint, took the gun off a settlement guard, went back to the car and shot each of the men at close range, killing three of them and injuring Kassab. He later returned to the factory on foot and shot and killed another worker.

A three-judge panel of the Jerusalem District Court called the murders a “moral failure” that were the result of Weisgen’s “warped thinking.”

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