Police have revealed shocking details about the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, whose body was found in Jerusalem Forest on 2 July
The murder of 16-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khdeir was pre-planned, it emerged today, after a gag order was partially lifted allowing details of the killing to surface for the first time.
The police have now revealed three of the main suspects bought petrol that was later used to burn the teenager alive following his abduction in East Jerusalem on 2 July.
A statement released on Monday by Jerusalem District Police said their investigation confirmed that the three people arrested on 6 July, four days after Abu Khdeir’s body was found, remain the main murder suspects. Police also confirmed that the three main suspects had confessed to the murder.
“On 2 July 2014 the three suspects decided together to kidnap and murder an Arab,” police said in a statement. “They searched for a victim in several Arab neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, finally arriving in Shuafat. When they saw that the teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir was alone, they seized him, forced him into their car, beat and stunned him and took him to the Jerusalem Forest.
“There they threw him out of the car, poured gasoline on him, set him on fire and fled,” the statement added.
Police revealed that two of the suspects had attacked a nine-year-old Palestinian the day before Abu Khdeir’s murder. Musa Zalum, who is also from Shuafat in East Jerusalem, was “lightly wounded in the neck”, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.
The charred body of Abu Khdeir was found on 2 July, the same day he was kidnapped and murdered in a suspected “revenge” attack by Israeli settlers. The teen’s death came after the discovery of the bodies of three Israeli teenagers who had gone missing from a West Bank settlement some three weeks earlier.
Monday’s statement confirmed the motivation for Abu Khdeir’s murder, with police saying: “they [the suspects] said their motive was revenge for the kidnapping and murder of the three Jewish teenagers.”
Rising anger on both sides, deepened by the ongoing bombardment of Gaza by Israeli strikes, has sparked rumours a third intifada will erupt in the West Bank. Last week Abu Khdeir’s father, Mohammed, spoke to MEE about the prospect of a new Palestinian uprising and the anger his son’s murder has caused in the community.
The names and identities of the suspects in Abu Khdeir’s murder remain protected under the gag order, although details of the evidence retrieved by police was confirmed in the statement. Abu Khdeir’s mobile phone was found in one of the suspects homes, among other unspecified physical evidence that further linked the suspects to the crime scene.
The statement described the police response that took place after they first received a call about the kidnapping at 4.48am local time (02.48 GMT) on 2 July. Officers immediately set up roadblocks and sought to locate the whereabouts of Abu Khdeir’s mobile phone, according to the statement, but at 5.20am (03.20 GMT) the body was found in the Jerusalem Forest.
Security cameras located along the route from Shuafat to the Jerusalem Forest captured footage of Abu Khdeir’s kidnapping, the police said, but did not record the registration plate of the abductors’ car or help reveal their identity. The issue is seen as highly sensitive as many in the Palestinian community have previously accusing Israeli police of not taking the case seriously.
Three other people arrested in connection with the murder have been released, under certain restrictions, after police established they were not involved in the killing although they believed to have known about the murder afterwards.
The State Prosecutor’s Office has now also submitted a statement to Petah Tikya Magistrate’s Court, according to Haaretz, stating the three held for Abu Khdeir’s murder will be charged with murder, kidnap with intent to commit murder, arson and attempted arson “attributable to racist-nationalist motives”.
The suspects are said to have undergone “psychiatric evaluation” in custody, in order to establish how police should treat them. This has not been done to rule out criminal responsibility, as some original social media reports suggested, but is a standard procedure intended to help police best deal with the suspects.