6 Israelis Held Over the Killing of Palestinian
Confronting the possibility of rising retaliatory violence between Jews and Palestinians, the Israeli authorities arrested six Israelis on Sunday in the killing of a Palestinian teenager, found beaten and burned in a Jerusalem forest last week.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned what he called a horrific crime and pledged that anyone found guilty would “face the full weight of the law.” Moshe Yaalon, the Israeli defense minister, said in a statement that he was “ashamed and shocked by the cruel murder,” describing those behind it as “Jewish terrorists.”
Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir’s father, center, greeted men who paid their condolences on Saturday.Autopsy Suggests Palestinian Teenager Was Burned to Death After AbductionJULY 5, 2014
The battered face of Tariq Khdeir, 15, a Palestinian-American arrested on Thursday in East Jerusalem by the Israeli police.
An Israeli police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, said there was a “strong possibility” that the motive for the killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, was “nationalistic,” indicating that it was a revenge attack by right-wing Jewish extremists for the recent kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. Muhammad’s body was discovered on Wednesday, about an hour after he was forced into a car in East Jerusalem, a few yards from his home.
The arrests came after weeks of calls in Israel for harsher military action in the Palestinian territories after the abduction of the Israelis: Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16. After their bodies were found last week, Mr. Netanyahu called their killers “beasts.”
The crackdown in the West Bank shook the Palestinian Authority and its reconciliation pact with Hamas in Gaza, weakening the more moderate West Bank leadership in the eyes of its public as it seeks international support for statehood.
In the wave of outrage after Muhammad’s killing, Palestinian youths have clashed with Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem and the Galilee in scenes reminiscent of the Palestinian uprisings in 1987 and 2000. The killings on each side — and the subsequent arrest of the Palestinian’s American cousin, whose beating by the Israeli police was caught on video — have raised the specter of the broader conflict’s descending into a cycle of personal vendettas and bloodletting.
“It gives legitimacy to our enemies to do what they want to us,” said Shaul Marziano, 65, a retired Israeli factory worker. “They should be treated just like Arab terrorists,” he said of the Israelis suspected of killing Muhammad.
Now, Israelis are left to face the prospect that the entrenched conflict with the Palestinians is intensifying radicalization within both populations.
On Sunday some Israelis compared the moment to that of watershed events like the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 by a right-wing Israeli fanatic, or the massacre by Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli doctor, of 29 Palestinian Muslims at prayer in 1994 in Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs.
“This is a wake-up call,” said Prof. Shlomo Avineri, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, accusing the government and the security services of not having dealt seriously enough in recent years with an extreme, nationalist fringe that has desecrated mosques and destroyed Palestinian property. Now, with the killing of Muhammad, Professor Avineri said, “a line has been crossed.” “This is absolute evil,” he added.
In addition to the rioting, tensions spiked along the border with Gaza in the south, with Palestinian militants firing at least 25 rockets into Israel on Sunday and Israel carrying out airstrikes…