Israel’s PM Netanyahu speaks with father of Muhammad Abu Khdeir : ‘The murder of your son is abhorrent and cannot be countenanced by any human being’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday spoke with Hussein Abu Khdeir, the father of Muhammad Abu Khdeir who was abducted and murdered last week in Jerusalem.
In the wake of intelligence and operational information, the Israel Police and the Israel Security Agency (ISA) arrested on Sunday several Jewish suspects regarding the murder of the 16-year-old boy.
The suspects are being questioned at an ISA facility.
Netanyhu told the father of Muhammad: “I would like to express my outrage and that of the citizens of Israel over the reprehensible murder of your son. We acted immediately to apprehend the murderers. We will bring them to trial and they will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law. We denounce all brutal behavior; the murder of your son is abhorrent and cannot be countenanced by any human being.”
Unequivocal condemnations across political spectrum
Following Sunday’s arrests, Israeli leaders from across the political spectrum immediately expressed revulsion and unequivocal condemnation.
President Shimon Peres said “In the State of Israel there is no difference between blood and blood… The murder of… a Jew or an Arab…cannot be accepted.”
He repeated his call for an end to incitement and violence, “We must stop the incitement, it’s time to be respectful and to respect the law. It’s in our hands. We know where words can lead, to more sorrow, to more danger. It’s time for all of us to show restraint, to show understanding and let us as human beings, all of us, be true to our morality and to our hope of living together in peace.”
Finance Minister Yair Lapid said “we should all be ashamed” over Abu Khadir’s murder. He called on law enforcement agencies to “deal decisively and aggressively with the murderers,” and on Israelis “to work to eradicate the extremism in our midst.”
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the pro-settlers party Bayit Hayeudi (Jewish Home) called the killing “terrible, immoral and anti-Jewish.” He added that the killers should be prosecuted as terrorists.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch stressed that “the State of Israel is a country that abides by, and enforces, the law, and will continue to take determined action against all those who violate the law. I ask that everyone show responsibility and work to prevent further disturbances.”
“This was a shocking and unacceptable act which any sane person, certainly in a strong and democratic country such as the State of Israel, must strongly condemn,” he said.
According to police, the arrested suspects are from Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and the West Bank settlement of Adam. Some are reported to be minors. Channel Two television said that the six are not part of an organised extremist group, but are radical youths who had decided to carry out the murder.
A Petach Tikva court ruled that five of the suspects will be detained for an additional eight days and the final suspect an additional five days.
Speaking to the media on Sunday after a condolence call in Nof Ayalon to the parents of Naftali Fraenkel, one of the three Israeli teens kidnapped and murdered last week, Netanyahu said about the murder of the Palestinian boy: ” I pledge that the perpetrators of this horrific crime, which must be resolutely condemned in the most forceful language, will face the full weight of the law. I know that in our society, the society of Israel, there is no place for such murderers. And that’s the difference between us and our neighbors. They consider murderers to be heroes. They name public squares after them. We don’t. We condemn them and we put them on trial and we’ll put them in prison”.
“And that’s not the only difference. While we put these murderers on trial, in the Palestinian Authority, there is continuous incitement for the destruction of the State of Israel. It’s a staple of the official media and the educational system,” he added.
“This is an asymmetrical conflict. We do not seek their destruction; they teach a very broad segment of their society to seek our destruction. And that must end. There is too much suffering. There is too much pain.”
“We do not differentiate between the terrorists and we will respond to all of them, wherever they come from, with a firm hand. We will not allow extremists from wherever they come to ignite the region and shed more blood.”
Netanyahu, referring to the murder of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah, said Israel knows exactly the identity of the murderers. He and his wife, Sara, visited each of the families on Sunday.
“The murderers came from the territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority; they returned to territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority,” he said. “Therefore, the Palestinian Authority is obliged to do everything in its power to find them, just as our security forces located the suspects in the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir within a matter of days.”
Comments in the Israeli press
In the Israeli media, the arrest of six suspects over the killing of Mohammed Abu Khedir is Monday’s top item. Yediot Ahronot’s headline is “Brutality on our midst” while Israel Hayom leads with “The murder and the shame.” The story is also the top item in Haaretz. Writing a joint item in Yediot Aharonot, President Shimon Peres and his successor Reuven Rivlin say “In the State of Israel there is no difference between blood and blood… The murder of a young man or woman, a Jew or an Arab, is an act that cannot be accepted.”
There is plenty of commentary on the revelation that six Israeli Jewish extremists have been arrested for the murder. In Israel Hayom, Sima Kadmon says there is deep sorrow over the recent murder of three Israeli teenagers, but “For the murder of Mohammed [Abu Khedir], there is shame. Immense shame and disgrace over the fact that such a thing happened amongst us.”
Israel Radio news reports that unrest following the murder of Abu Khedir continued in Israeli Arab communities last night, with disturbances in Jerusalem, northern and southern communities. Dozens of arrests were reportedly made.
Israel Hayom also emphasises that Gaza rocket fire continued to escalate in southern Israel over the weekend. Israel Radio news reports that seven Hamas activists were killed in Israel Air Force strikes in response last night.
Meanwhile, Israel Police said Sunday that 19-year-old Shelley Dadon, whose body was found in a car park in Migdal Ha’emek, in northern Israel, in early May, was murdered by her taxi driver, 34-year-old Hussein Yousef Khalifa, who confessed and reenacted her killing.
The Shin Bet security service believes that the murder had a nationalist motive.