Israeli authorities yesterday charged three Jewish Israeli extremists with the brutal murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khedir in East Jerusalem, a crime which was formally recognised yesterday as an act of terrorism.
The discovery of Abu Khedir’s body in the Jerusalem Forest earlier this month sparked riots in East Jerusalem and beyond. Israeli leaders from across the political spectrum immediately expressed revulsion and unequivocal condemnation for the crime, which was apparently carried out as an act of revenge for the murder just days before of three Israeli teenagers, Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel.
Six arrests in connection with Abu Khedir’s murder were quickly made and yesterday three of the suspects were charged in a Jerusalem District court. Although their names remain subject to a gag order, one was identified as a 29-year-old man from Adam, near Jerusalem, and two 16-year-olds, from Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem. According to the charge sheet, Abu Khdeir was beaten unconscious by the three men and then set afire while still alive. The three suspects have apparently confessed to the murder and re-enacted the sequence of events for police, admitting nationalist motives for the crime.
In a statement, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said, “The indictment that was filed details a grave and shocking act, perpetrated against a background of racism, against an innocent teenager.” The statement continued, “The Attorney General wishes to express his deep sorrow over this cruel act that counters all basic human morals.”
Also yesterday, Israel’s Ministry of Defence announced that it had formally recognised Abu Khedir as a victim of terrorism. A statement explained that in light of yesterday’s charges, “which point to the nationalistic motive of his murder” Abu Khedir would be classified as a terror victim. As a result, his family will be entitled to the same rights and support given by the state to other citizens and residents of Israel who have lost family members in a terrorist attack.