Murder of a Palestinian Youth in the Jerusalem Forest
4 July 2014
The Murder of a Palestinian Youth in the Jerusalem Forest
Early yesterday morning (Wednesday, 2 July), Muhammed Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian resident of Shuafat, Jerusalem was murdered.
Israel is treating this case with the utmost seriousness. The possibility that this youth was killed as an act of revenge for the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers, who were buried the day before (1July), has placed Abu Khdeir's murder along the top of Israel's agenda.
Israelis, starting with President Shimon Peres, President-elect Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have condemned the murder and expressions of hatred. Israel has taken robust actions to solve the case as well as to ensure that any conditions which might have contributed to the crime are punished and not repeated.
The appearance of hateful comments and even isolated demonstrations by extremists following the shocking discovery of the bodies of the Israeli teenagers has shaken Israeli society and sparked a process of self-examination. Israel, which has been the long-time victim of Palestinian incitement to violence and terrorism, rejects any expressions of hatred and is taking concrete steps to limit them.
• Shortly after the murder, Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered law-enforcement elements to work as quickly as possible to investigate the murder.
• Israel's Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein, ordered an investigation after hateful comments were posted online, particularly on social media.
• The Israel Police have assigned the elite Lahav 433 cybercrime unit to investigate online hatred and open criminal investigations.
• The IDF is punishing soldiers who posted hateful comments or calls for vengeance. Seven IDF soldiers had been sentenced to military prison.
• President Shimon Peres delivered a special message, stating that "it's time for all of us to show restraint, to show understanding and let us as human beings, all of us, be true to our morality, to our hope to live together in peace."
The president also said: "As President of the State of Israel I call upon every citizen, all citizens, with a serious request, now is a time for two things; to respect the law and to avoid incitement."
• Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the murder as "reprehensible."
He also called "on all sides not to take the law into their own hands" and noted that "Israel is a nation of laws and everyone must act according to the law."
• Justice Minister Tzipi Livni [in response to incitement]: "This is not the way of Zionism, this is not the way of the State of Israel. We cannot let extremism win."
• Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat described the murder as a "horrible" act which he strongly condemned.
• Politicians from across the political spectrum denounced the attack. For example:
Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) said that the murder of the youth is a "shocking and heinous act” and called to bring the killers to justice.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) strongly condemned the murder and noted that "violence of any kind on either side is unacceptable."
• Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau said that revenge is wrong in terms of morality, values, and Jewish law. "We must rely on the security services that they will do their work properly and not to think at all about independent and dangerous revenge operations which could endanger lives across the entire region."
• Former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar issued a plea to young Jews to trust in God and Israel's political leadership and avoid taking the law into their own hands. "The worst thing would be if everyone took the law and revenge into their own hands.”
• Less than a day after burying their son, Naftali, the Frenkel family issued a statement: "We do not know exactly what happened overnight in east Jerusalem. The police are investigating the matter. But if it turns out that an Arab youngster was killed for nationalistic reasons, then that is terrifying and shocking. There is no difference between blood and blood. Murder is murder, no matter what the age or nationality is. There is no justification, forgiveness or atonement for such a murder.”