Palestinians claim dead teenager found in forest was killed by Israelis in 'eye for an eye' attack

PM Benjamin Netanyahu is struggling to control the frenzied reaction to the murder of three Israeli hitch-hikers. Ben Lynfield reports on an ugly mood that has turned bloody


The conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians was thrown into a new crisis today after Israeli police discovered the body of a teenager in a Jerusalem forest. Palestinians say he fell victim to Israelis avenging the deaths of three abducted Jewish youths.

Palestinians identified the victim as 17-year old Mohammed Abu Khdeir and said he had been forced into a car by Israelis around 3:45am before he was to head to prayers at a mosque near his home in the Shuafat neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli police said they believed the corpse found in the forest belonged to Abu Khdeir, whose family had reported the abduction to police. “We are investigating and our main focus is to find out if this was criminal or nationalistically motivated,” said the police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

Palestinians had no such doubts however, and news of the killing fuelled rage and intense clashes with police outside the Abu Khdeir home and in Beit Hanina, a nearby neighbourhood. Coming a day after anti-Arab rioting in Jewish West Jerusalem following the funerals of the three Jewish teenagers, the clashes raised the level of tension in Jerusalem to their highest level in years and threatened to fuel confrontations in the occupied West Bank, where at least seven people were wounded during Israeli army operations.

At the family home, against the backdrop of sound bombs, Ansam Abu Khdeir, first cousin of Mohammed, said: “There is not one day they are not killing us and we’re not supposed to complain.”

She described Mohammed as “a sweetheart, kind, not a troublesome kid. He’s so funny, he has a good sense of humour. We just didn’t expect it to happen, in Shuafat, in Jerusalem”.

Mohammed’s father, Hussein, said he and his wife had given DNA samples at the request of police and agreed to an autopsy on condition a Palestinian doctor would participate. Speaking to The Independent, he voiced doubts about whether the Israeli police would find the criminals. “I told the police, ‘You will not catch them because the man who was killed is an Arab. If the man killed was Jewish, you would catch the people who killed him.’”

He said police had told him that camera footage from the neighbourhood was “not enough”. However, the family’s lawyer, Mohammed al-Mashni, said he believed police were conducting a thorough investigation.

Elsewhere, more than 40 people were arrested in the anti-Arab riots on Monday night, which were punctuated by chants of “Death to the Arabs”.

The mother of Mohammed Abu Khdeir shows a picture of her son (Reuters) The mother of Mohammed Abu Khdeir shows a picture of her son (Reuters)

“The tensions and attacks are all over the places where Arab Jerusalemites meet Israelis,’’ said Menachem Klein, a political scientist at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv. “It’s a very dangerous situation and I hope that police don’t cover up the investigation.”

Abu Khdeir’s funeral is expected to be held today after police return his body to the family. Another point of tension will be Friday prayers at al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, overlooking the Western wall, Judaism’s holiest locale.

The normally tranquil Shuafat neighbourhood resembled the flashpoints of the two Palestinian uprisings yesterday, as masked youths, some of them bare chested in the blazing heat, burnt tyres and used slingshots to target Israeli security forces. Smoke billowed into the sky and youths took cover behind metal casing. Sound bombs resounded and youths periodically chanted “Allahu Akbar!”, [God is the greatest], before they ran up to hurl their projectiles.

Ambulances evacuated youths who had apparently been hit by rubber-coated metal bullets fired by the security forces.

Mr Rosenfeld, the police spokesman, had no information about the violence in Shuafat, but said that police in neighbouring Beit Hanina had faced stones, petrol bombs and pipe bombs. Youths also attacked the light rail station in Shuafat, a symbol to them of Israeli rule, and shattered parts of it. There were similar attacks on two other stations nearby.

The Palestinian legislator Jihad Abu Zneid, from President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement who was at the scene of the clashes, said: “This is a natural reaction to killing, demolishing houses and attacking children. [The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is personally responsible for Mohammed’s death.”

Mr Abbas issued a statement calling on Mr Netanyahu to condemn the killing just as he had condemned the abduction of the three Israeli teens in the West Bank on 12 June. He called on the Israeli government to “act immediately and take real steps to stop the aggression of the settlers and the chaos caused as a result of the Israeli aggression”.

Marchers call for an end to the violence and revenge in Jerusalem (Corbis) Marchers call for an end to the violence and revenge in Jerusalem (Corbis)
Mr Netanyahu’s office released a statement saying he had spoken with the Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and “requested that those conducting the investigation act with the greatest speed possible to investigate who is responsible for this despicable murder”. Mr Netanyahu called on citizens “not to take the law into their hands”.

In the West Bank, Israeli forces arrested 40 people as part of ongoing sweeps against the Hamas movement, which Israel blames for the killings of the Israeli teenagers. To date, the Israeli government has produced no evidence to support its assertion.

Four Palestinians were also wounded by live fire early yesterday during an Israeli raid in Jenin, Reuters reported. In Idna, in the southern West Bank, the army demolished part of a house belonging to a Hamas member accused of killing an off-duty policeman and three Palestinians were reported wounded in clashes that erupted there. Israeli media reports said that four mortars fired from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel without causing damage.

The family of Naftali Frankel, one of the three Israeli teens killed, issued a statement yesterday condemning the killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. “There is no difference between blood and blood. Murder is murder regardless of age and nationality.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvSPOILER ALERT: Like a mash-up of 28 Days Later, Braveheart, The Killing and Lord of the Rings, this GoT episode was a belter
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral