Mohammed Abu Khdeir

The Israeli High Court ruled Tuesday that three Jewish Israelis convicted of kidnapping, torturing and brutally murdering a Palestinian teenager by setting him on fire should not have their homes demolished. The Court noted that “Jewish terrorism is different from Arab terrorism”, and the collective punishment measures used against the families of Palestinians who commit violence should not be used against Jewish Israelis who commit acts of political violence.

The three men – one adult and two minors – killed 16-year old Mohammed Abu Khdeir in June 2014. The teenager was kidnapped in the Shufat neighbourhood of occupied Jerusalem by Ben David of the illegal settlement Geva Binyamin and two assailants on 2 July 2014, Abu Khdeir was then beaten, forced to drink gasoline and burnt alive.

The autopsy found that gasoline was poured down Abu Khdeir’s throat and that there was soot in his lungs which shows that he was still breathing as his attackers burnt him alive. The autopsy also found that he was repeatedly beaten over the head with a sharp object, most likely a tire iron or a wrench.

Two days prior to Abu Khdeir’s abduction the group attempted to kidnap a 7-year-old boy Moussa Zaloum although he was able to escape with the help of his mother. The family reported the attempted kidnapping to Israeli police although they did not investigate the incident.

Three days after the attack, Muhammad’s cousin, 15-year-old American citizen Tariq Abu Khdeir was detained and brutally beaten by Israeli border police, an event caught on camera, before being released.

The Israeli government has a policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinians who carry out attacks against Israelis – as well as demolishing their family members’ homes. The government claims that this acts as a ‘deterrent’ against future attacks, but there is no evidence to support that claim.

In addition, this use of punitive home demolitions is a type of collective  punishment, which is illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory.

Ben-David, the one person named in the murder of Abu Khdeir, is serving a life sentence for murder, and has to pay restitution to the family of the boy he killed, worth about $40,000.

The father of Mohammed Abu Khdeir says that he is angry about the Israeli court ruling, and will take the case to the International Court in the Hague.