Three Israelis are to now be indicted with the murder of Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir, as it appears their initial intent was, in fact, to kill an eight-year-old child. One 29-year-old man and three teenagers are to be charged on counts of murder, kidnapping with intent to murder, arson and attempted arson, all committed ‘on racist, nationalistic grounds,’ according to police.
Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, was kidnapped from occupied East Jerusalem on July 2. He was tortured and burned while still alive, in a suspected revenge killing over the widely publicized story regarding the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers, allegedly by members of Hamas.
Confrontations between protesters and Israeli forces began escalating in the West Bank region prior to either incident, following the deaths of two Palestinian teenagers killed during Nakba Day protests, just shortly before the 3 settlers were reported missing.
Nakba Day is the annual commemoration of the eight hundred thousand Palestinians who were forced out of their homes in Historic Palestine during the War of 1948. ‘Nakba’, which is the Arabic word for catastrophe, is also used to describe the situation of Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli occupiers. At the heart of the catastrophe are the five million Palestinians currently living as refugees, the largest refugee population in the world.
According to Ma’an’s report, a police statement was issued following the removal of a gag order on the case of Abu Khdeir’s murder, in which the suspects had reportedly confessed to the murder and that they had carried out a reenactment of the crime for the investigation team.
Several people were arrested in connection with the incident, with some being released after police and Shin Bet security agency determined that they were not directly involved.
In another statement, Shin Bet said that the suspects had in fact confessed to killing the boy.
The statement further revealed that the suspects — all related — had decided to kill an Arab, equipping themselves with cable ties, petrol and other materials, and randomly choosing Abu Khdeir as their victim.
The day prior, according to Ma’an’s report, the suspects had tried to kidnap an 8-year-old child in another part of the city, but were fended off by the child’s mother.
Israeli media has reported that the 29-year-old prime suspect would basing his defense on a case of mental instability, as he has reportedly undergone psychiatric treatment in connection with another incident in which he attempted to strangle his own infant daughter.
The indictment is to be filed on Friday, according to a spokesman for ‘Honenu’, a group which is known for legally defending right-wing affiliated Jews accused of extremist criminal behavior.
A spokeswoman for the state attorney’s office told AFP that the indictment could be possibly come earlier, as the exact clauses of the charge sheet were subject to change.
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.