Israel Reportedly Arrests Six for Murder of Palestinian Teen
On Sunday, Israeli police arrested six Jewish suspects for the murder of a Palestinian teenager last week. The murder was reportedly carried out in revenge for the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teens last month. The Palestinian victim, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, was 16 years old.
Abu Khdeir's charred body was found last week in a forest near Jerusalem; friends reported that they had seen him being urged to get into a car outside his house. After an autopsy, it was determined that Khieder had been burned alive by his attackers. "It’s lucky that I saw the boy after I gave my sermon in the mosque," one of Abu Khdeir's relatives, an imam, told Haaretz, "otherwise it would have sounded very different." He claimed he had never seen such a mangled body.
Officials have yet to release much information about the suspects, though they are reported to be Jewish extremists. All six were held for questioning on Sunday about what officials have said are "nationalistic" motives in connection with the murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank last month. The Israeli government blamed those deaths on Hamas after the bodies were found last Monday, although Hamas has yet to release any comments on the affair.
The murders, of both Abu Khdeir and the three Jewish teenagers, have led to unrest throughout the country: Hamas has reportedly fired rockets at Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip, while Israeli police have clashed with protesters demonstrating after Khdeir's body was found. The protests, in Jerusalem and surrounding Arab communities, came to a head on Saturday when police arrested 22 demonstrators. A few days before that, authorities arrested one of Abu Khdeir's cousins, Tariq Abu Khdeir, who was visiting from Florida.
Tariq was allegedly participating in Thursday's protests, though he claims he was merely watching. Regardless of what he was doing, no one disputes the video that circulated shortly after the arrest, which shows two Israeli officers viciously beating the 15-year-old even after his body goes limp. “I was actually brutally attacked from the side. I heard somebody screaming and he came and attacked me and I actually went unconscious, and I woke up in the hospital," the teen told ABC News. "I was screaming, I was just screaming when they hit me."
Sentenced to nine days under house arrest, he was released on $850 bail on Sunday morning after being held for days without charges. He will not be allowed to return to the neighborhood where the incident occurred – the same neighborhood where he was staying with his family. Provided the investigation has concluded by then, he is set to return to Florida with his family on July 16.