Ramallah, July 10, 2014—Israeli police arrested six Jewish men on Sunday, two of whom were minors, in connection with the abduction and brutal murder of Mohammad Abu Khdeir.
A ruling by Israel’s Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court released three of the six suspects Thursday.
A 30-year-old and two minors from the greater Jerusalem area remain in custody and have confessed to the murder, according to multiple sources.
An Israeli official told media that all the suspects belonged to a “Jewish extremist group.” The three who were released are apparently not thought to have been directly involved in the murder.
All six suspects have been prevented from meeting with lawyers at the request of Shin Bet security service. The released suspects were expected to meet with lawyers, hired by a right wing legal action group, today.
Preliminary autopsy results indicated that Mohammad Abu Khdeir was burnt alive, and died from burns and their consequences.
Palestinian Attorney General Abdelghani al-Owaiwi told media that the 16-year-old teen from East Jerusalem suffered burns on “90 percent of his body,” and that “the results show he was breathing while on fire.”
Protests in response to the boy’s death began last Wednesday, July 2 in Shuafat, the neighborhood from which Mohammad was abducted, and intensified throughout the week.
On Friday, July 4, thousands of Palestinians gathered for the boy’s burial. Confrontations in East Jerusalem between demonstrators and Israeli police have led to dozens of injuries.
The slain teen’s 16-year-old cousin, Tariq, was unable to attend the funeral after being beaten, arrested and detained by Israeli police. Tariq visited his cousin’s grave following his release on Sunday, July 6.
Ramallah, July 3, 2014—Three Israeli men kidnapped and murdered a 16-year-old Palestinian boy from East Jerusalem on Wednesday morning in an apparent revenge attack for the killing of three Israeli settler teens. Tensions have risen markedly in Jerusalem and across the West Bank since Israeli authorities discovered their bodies on Monday.
Mohammad Abu Khdeir, 16, left his father’s shop in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat at around 3:30 am. He was on his way to the mosque to attend dawn prayer, marking the start of the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. According to news reports and DCI-Palestine sources, he was bundled into a car by three men, thought to be Jewish extremists.
Israeli authorities found Mohammad's corpse at 6 am on Wednesday morning in a forest on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. They transferred his badly burnt body to Israel’s Abu Kabir Forensic Institute. At the time of writing, his funeral had been postponed to allow for the completion of the autopsy.
According to Reuters, an Israeli security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Israel suspected Mohammad had been killed in retribution for the killing of the three Israeli teens. A spokesman for the Israeli police said that they were still investigating the motives for the killing, but that it is possible that it was a “nationalistically motivated slaying.”
“The latest tragedy amplifies the urgent need to end the occupation and the cycle of violence that it perpetuates,” said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine. “Children are paying the price for this conflict.”
The attack came a day after the emotionally charged funerals of three Israeli teenagers, and followed a night in which Jewish extremists were reported to have rampaged through parts of Jerusalem chanting “death to Arabs.” Mohammad’s murder sparked large protests in Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem. Israeli forces used 40mm-caliber sponge rounds, rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades in clashes with stone-throwing youths. More than 100 people were reported injured, at least four of them with live ammunition, a medical source told DCI-Palestine.
Other apparent revenge attacks in Shuafat have also been reported. Israeli settlers attempted to kidnap Mousa Zaloom, 9, on Monday evening. According to local media, his father Rami Zaloom said that his family was walking in the neighborhood after a meal when his wife heard Mousa screaming. She looked around to see Mousa being choked by a settler and dragged toward a waiting car. As she attempted to intervene, the settlers turned upon her, beating her before fleeing without the child when onlookers arrived at the scene.
Mousa has sustained marks to his neck and his mother remains in a state of shock.
As well as fears of individual reprisals, concerns that the Israeli military will seek revenge on Palestinian communities through a policy of collective punishment for the killings of the three Israeli settler teens have grown.
Since the abduction of the teenagers on June 12, a total of nine Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli forces during the search operation, while more than 500 have been arrested, according to news reports. One child, 15-year-old Mohammad Dudeen, was among the dead.
The excessive force employed by the Israeli military in past weeks has amounted to collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population as a whole, with West Bank homes raided, freedom of movement severely restricted and deaths and injuries rising as residents clash with soldiers.
International humanitarian law provides specific protections for civilians, including children, and prohibits the occupying power from carrying out collective penalties and reprisals against protected persons and their property.
In Gaza, rocket-fire from Palestinian armed groups has intensified in response to this week’s events. Nightly air strikes by the Israeli air force have taken place both in response to the discovery of the Israeli teens’ bodies and to rockets fired from Gaza landing in southern Israel.
At the funeral for the three Israeli teens on Tuesday, Netanyahu swore to escalate military strikes on Gaza “to the extent required.”
CCTV footage obtained by The Telegraph shows the moment 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Khdeir was kidnapped in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat.