Police investigating the murder of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir believe there may be a connection between his abduction and the attempted kidnapping of a schoolboy in the same East Jerusalem neighborhood a day earlier.
The police increasingly believe Jewish extremists are behind Abu Khdeir's murder, and that the suspects belong to a gang that banded together to avenge the kidnap and murder of the three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.
The remand of five of the six suspects was extended by eight days on Sunday. An additional suspect's remand was extended five days. Police expect other arrests to follow.
East Jerusalem resident Dina Zalum told an investigator for human rights group Btselem that a man tried to abduct her 9-year-old son, Musa, in their Shoafat neighborhood a day before Abu Khdeir's death and that the police did not follow up on her complaint.
"I heard the sound of a car braking as it entered Shoafat," she said. "I heard a boy's voice call out, 'Mommy, Mommy.' It was the voice of Musa shouting for help and calling out to me."
Zalum recalled that she looked back and saw a short, thin man with eyeglasses, and described him as having pale skin and long hair.
"He grabbed Musa by the throat as if he were trying to prevent him from screaming," she said. "I attacked him and started to beat him with the cellphone that was in my hand, and I cried, 'They're trying to kidnap my son.' Another man got out of the car and beat me together with the first man."
Meanwhile, said Zalum, Musa managed to get away from the kidnappers, who shouted at each other in Hebrew.
"They pushed me to the ground," she said. "My head hit the pavement and I lost consciousness." Passersby who heard the mother's shouts intervened and the kidnappers fled.
After the attempted kidnapping, a police patrol car was called to the scene. The family asserts that they gave details of the incident to the police officer and remarked that Jews were involved. According to the police, the policeman asked them to come to the police station and file a formal complaint. Since the family did not do so, the police did not follow through.
The police also asserted that the father of the family told officers on the scene that the attackers were not Jewish. Only after the abduction and the murder of Abu Khdeir, were members of the Zalum family called in for an investigation to give their version of the events.
The investigation of Abu Khdeir's murder reached a breakthrough over the past day, after the kidnappers' vehicle was located. Security cameras caught the vehicle on tape but not its license plate number. Early Sunday morning, investigators went to the homes of two of the suspects and arrested them. The court extended the gag order on the case on Sunday regarding many details of the investigation, shortly before they were to be released, at the request of the Shin Bet security service, which took custody of the suspects.
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