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Hundreds march in memorial service for murdered Palestinian teen

‘Our only demand is that the murderers spend the rest of their lives in jail, so that everyone knows that what they did is unconscionable.’

By Michael Salisbury-Corech

Family members mark a year since the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, Shuafat, East Jerusalem, June 2, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Family members mark a year since the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, Shuafat, East Jerusalem, June 2, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hundreds of Palestinians marched last Thursday in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat to mark one year since the abduction and murder of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir. Participants waved Palestinian flags and held posters with Abu Khdeir’s face as they marched from the mosque where he was kidnapped, to the local girls elementary school where a memorial service was held.

Abu Khdeir was murdered in the early morning of July 2, 2014 by three Jewish men, purportedly as a random act of “vengeance” in response to the murder of three Jewish teenagers by Palestinians in the West Bank. The perpetrators kidnapped Abu Khdeir as he was walking to a neighborhood mosque for early morning prayers, took him to a Jerusalem-area forest, where they beat and burned him alive.

Thursday’s service included speeches from several public figures, including Theodosios (Hanna) of Sebastia from the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, and Adnan al-Husayni, the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem for the Palestinian Authority. The service passed without incident, despite warnings and threats by the Shin Bet and police toward the Abu Khdeir family to delay and even cancel the event altogether.

Palestinians take part in a demonstration in Shuafat, in East Jerusalem, July 2, 2015 to mark the first anniversary of the killing of 16-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was snatched and burned alive by Jewish extremists in an act of revenge after the abduction and murder of three young Israelis. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians take part in a demonstration in Shuafat, in East Jerusalem, July 2, 2015 to mark the first anniversary of the killing of 16-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was snatched and burned alive by Jewish extremists in an act of revenge after the abduction and murder of three young Israelis. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

In an interview with +972’s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call, Abu Khdeir’s cousin Said said the event was important, especially in light of the pressure to cancel it out of fear that Palestinian youth would throw stones:

“We knew that there would be no clashes, despite all the pressure that was placed on us by the security services. Shin Bet agents came two weeks ago and threatened me and several other family members that if something happens, we would be arrested that same night. The police also wanted us to sign a document promising that nothing would happen. We refused to sign and said that we are organizing the event and don’t want clashes. They pressured us to delay the event to Friday event, when the Jerusalem light rail no longer passes through the village and there isn’t much traffic in the area. We refused.

“The father of the martyr, Hussein Abu Khdeir, said that we would hold the ceremony on the exact date of the murder, and that if we do it on Friday, many people from the West Bank will come after they are done praying at Al-Aqsa, which would only raise the likelihood of clashes.

What are your thoughts on the trial of the suspects?

“We want the three of them to receive life sentences. A life sentence for the kidnapping, a life sentence for the murder, and another life sentence for the trauma this has caused the family. We do not want to see a situation in which the president grants them clemency, or the courts cut down their sentences for good behavior, which means that in a few years time they will be released and continue living their lives.

Hussein Abu Khdeir sits during a memorial ceremony in honor of his son, Muhammad, who was kidnapped and burned alive by three Jewish men a year ago, Shuafat, East Jerusalem, June 2, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hussein Abu Khdeir sits during a memorial ceremony in honor of his son, Muhammad, who was kidnapped and burned alive by three Jewish men a year ago, Shuafat, East Jerusalem, June 2, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

“Palestinians who take part in terrorism have their homes destroyed, but when Jews do the same nothing happens to their homes. I understand that this is because the state is racist. After all, we are talking about Jews who have rights here.

“I must say that despite all of my anger at the killers’ parents, I do not think it is right to destroy their homes. They shouldn’t have to pay for what their children did. My only demand is that they are convicted and spend the rest of their lives in jail, so that everyone can understand that what they did is unconscionable.”

Michael Salisbury-Coresh is an anti-occupation and public housing activist based in Jerusalem. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call, where he is a blogger. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Marnie

      “Palestinians who take part in terrorism have their homes destroyed, but when Jews do the same nothing happens to their homes. I understand that this is because the state is racist. After all, we are talking about Jews who have rights here.

      “I must say that despite all of my anger at the killers’ parents, I do not think it is right to destroy their homes. They shouldn’t have to pay for what their children did. My only demand is that they are convicted and spend the rest of their lives in jail, so that everyone can understand that what they did is unconscionable.”

      I hope Mohammed’s father will see justice done regarding the kidnapping and murder of his son. I feel the same way for the murderers of Jews. The law must be the same for everyone. Until we start destroying the homes of Jewish terrorist suspects, we’d better quit already with destroying the homes of Palestinian terrorist suspects. One state for all people, equal rights for all and the same rule of law for all. Sounds like heaven.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Pedro X

      “One state for all people, equal rights for all and the same rule of law for all. Sounds like heaven.”

      Whose heaven? Your heaven is one in which a Jewish state would be destroyed and replaced with another Arab state. Polls show neither Palestinians nor Israelis see an one state solution as any solution. There is no one state model which has been proposed which has any realistic chance of succeeding in anything else except a descent into hell and civil war.

      Benny Morris in his book One State, Two States had shown that an one state solution was an ill thought out proposal by left wing academics like Tony Judt who had no realistic plans how such a state would operate. Some leftists think that a workable framework would materialize out of the ether and operate smoothly. This is Utopian thinking.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ben

      The only way to appeal to most Israelis in regards to Palestine is to appeal to their sense of self preservation. Appeals to justice or humanity simply don’t resonate. For the Palestinians, in other words, the way to achieve an independent state is to appear to give up on trying to get one. Only when the Palestinians determinedly pursue One State–which is the only thing Israelis fear and loathe more than Two States–and as the slide to One State inexorably progresses–and it will, as the failures of separation, merger and messaging described above continue–will the Israelis en masse begin to recognize that the status quo cannot go on indefinitely. That is, as pointed out by Amir Tibon and Grant Rumley in Foreign Affairs, the Palestinians will have to reach for something the Israelis hold even more dear than the West Bank: control over Israel itself as a Jewish state. Only then will the Israelis begin to see Two States as their least-bad option.

      Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X

        The bogieman of an one state solution does not scare Israelis. There will be no shot gun wedding between the bride of Chucky and Israel. Israelis chose to establish their own state despite the efforts of the Arabs to prevent it and then to end it. Israelis are not going to abandon their state, institutions, laws and customs because some writers try to scare them with tales of the horrors of an one state solution.

        Israelis have overcome real terrors of Palestinian terrorism which has blown up school buses, killed Israeli school children, killed people having a slice of pizza, killed babies in their trams and slitted the throats of sleeping children. Israel is not going to join these people who send their children and young men and women to kill them in a single state no more than you would invite Freddy Kruger or the Texas Chain Saw Massacre gang into your home.

        The facts are that the Arabs could have had their own separate state but refused to do so because they were more interested in terminating any Jewish state. The Arabs refused their own state in 1937 and 1947, in 1939 they refused to take a singular state over all of Palestine because the British White Paper did not permit the expulsion of the Jews already there, and they refused to accept the West Bank in 1967 if it required the recognition of the Jewish state. In 1977 Palestinian Arabs refused autonomy and a seat at the peace table of Egypt and Israel. In 2000, 2001 and 2008 the Palestinians turned down the offers of Israel to establish an independent Palestinian state ending the conflict and creating a Palestinian state living in peace with an Israeli state.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          “Oh we don’t demonize. Only they do.” This is as classic a demonization as it gets, using Hollywood tropes of demonization. Pretty funny. But in that very language you use you show it does scare you. Of course Israelis will never agree to one state. That’s the authors’ point.

          You’ve combined this Hollywood monster mash with other fictions about how generous Israel been in those peace deals and how rejecting the other side has been. Standard off the shelf propaganda out of a can. Like Ariel “U” eh? We’ve been over that remarkable inversion of reality: “Oh why are they so ungrateful? I mean after all we offer them spots in our “university” built on the land we took from them…for military purposes of course” Pedro X, now that I see you like scary movies about monsters knocking down doors in the night, maybe you can begin to feel what it’s like for a sleeping Palestinian family to be woken in the night by goon squads invading their home and dragging their father out “for practice”? Fat chance. You’d have to regard them as human beings with rights. But with you its all about “your” “rights”–you–living in Canada–over the rights of indigenous inhabitants–and people who disagree with that equation “demonize” you. While you go around calling them Freddy. Marvelous. The demonization doesn’t stop at Freddy Krugerizing the Palestinians, however. Everyone but everyone who disagrees with you gets at some point demonized. Even the Presbyterians for gods sake, the most undemon-like group on the planet get demonized as the anti-Semitic bogeyman.

          At some point, with the Israeli leadership continually refusing to lay the groundwork for a Palestinian state, and a new generation of Palestinians calling for Israeli citizenship and voting rights and leaving the old generation’s mindset behind, the international community will question whether the Israeli military control of the West Bank really is a temporary situation and, if it isn’t, what should be done about the two million people living under it. It goes without saying that there is no chance the Israelis would agree to One State, but in these evolving circumstances a one-state campaign could exert massive pressure on Israel. Remember the US Secretary of State has already has spoken publicly of an apartheid state. Ehud Barak pretty much said the same thing. I hear Barak is waiting in the wings, waiting for the right time, when Israelis come to their senses. Barak is an old man now, maybe too old, maybe not, and has his own limitations, but there will be younger better Baraks and new leaders free of the blithe colonialist presumptions of the past.

          Reply to Comment
    4. Ben

      One of the stories that sticks in my mind (25:40-29:30 in the video below) is how Yehuda Shaul’s unit was on patrol and there was a World Cup soccer game going on–Argentina vs Nigeria–that was televised. This is in Ramallah. So they look for a house with a satellite dish, invade the house. Military necessity. The Palestinian family is actually watching the same game they’re after. “Sorry you’re not watching the game today folks.” The soldiers lock the family in the next room–lock the family in the next room–and watch the game. Great fun. When the game’s over, they unlock the family and walk out. Just like that. Just. Like. That. Meanwhile, the IDF will tell you they strictly enforce the rule that soldiers can only use what they need of the occupied population’s property to carry out their needful operations. This is however routinely, not exceptionally, violated–all sorts of things used, broken, defaced, etc. by bored soldiers.

      Or how about: A street’s too narrow to get a tank through. No urgent mission. But no problem! Tear down a grocer’s wall, leaving the store gaping and exposed. Just like that. You’re running low on water? Hey no problem! Take a grocer’s water. Military necessity. The officer over the official radio said take the water only but hey, who doeesn’t also need cigarettes …chocolates… cokes… money… no problem! Looting and destroying property was routine. Hundreds of stories.

      The later part of the video below (from 54:00 on) is hard to watch–but watch it–details how innocent people were killed–a drummer, in the streets waking people early in the morning to eat before the the Ramadan fast, was killed. The soldiers did not know that drummers wake people early in the morning before the Ramadan fast. No one told them that. They had carte blanche ‘Wild West’ firing orders, arbitrarily thought up by the company commander, with no higher check on this. Firing Orders: “Anyone spotted in the casbah between 2 and 4 AM is doomed to die.” Period. Soldiers were puzzled. Shaul asked Why? Company commander’s firing orders. Just because. A baker going about his normal early morning business–as the soldiers that shot him determined he was when they opened his bag–is also shot dead in the same place. Oh sorry. Firing orders. By they’re just Arabs.

      The crucial thing BtS is aiming at: the whole society outside the territories is designed to be silent about what is really going on. To not know. Breaking the Silence has been simply holding up a mirror to that society for 11 years now. But by and large that society doesn’t want to look. Then that society complains when Breaking the Silence speaks to foreign audiences.

      http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/media/77122

      Reply to Comment