Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel was responsible for yesterday’s kidnapping and murder of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir, and called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to condemn the crime, just as he, Abbas, had condemned the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers last month.
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“Israel bears full responsibility for this incident,” Abbas said. “The Israeli police and security forces must bring those responsible to justice. The Palestinian leadership will continue its discussions following this escalation, including advancing its membership in international organizations.”
Early yesterday morning, Khdeir’s body was found in the Jerusalem Forest, only hours after his family reported to police that he was missing. Jerusalem police also received a report earlier Tuesday night that a man had been forced onto a vehicle near the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina.
Netanyahu asked Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch to make sure the investigation into the murder is concluded quickly, to determine who is responsible and what the circumstances were. He also called on all parties not to take the law into their own hands. “Israel is a state of law and everyone is called upon to act in accordance with the law,” he said.
Though the body found in the forest has not yet been linked to the reported kidnapping, clashes erupted in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shoafat in response to the initial reports. Three light rail stations in Shoafat and Beit Hanina were vandalized.
International response was also swift. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement, “The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the despicable and senseless abduction and murder. It is sickening to think of an innocent 17-year-old boy snatched off the streets and his life stolen from him and his family. There are no words to convey adequately our condolences to the Palestinian people.
“All parties must do everything in their power to protect the innocent and act with reasonableness and restraint, not recrimination and retribution,” he added.
Ismail Haniyeh, the vice chairman of Hamas’ political bureau, said that “the Palestinian people will not remain indifferent in the face of continued Israeli aggression.” “The Palestinian people are united” in the wake of recent developments in the West Bank, he added.
In a statement, Haniyeh called for international intervention to stop what he defined as “Israeli crimes, including the murder of the teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir.”
Susan Rice, U.S. President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, issued a harsh condemnation of the murder. In a series of tweets from her Twitter account, Rice offered the U.S. government’s condolences to the boy’s family and to the Palestinian people. “Perpetrators must be brought to justice. U.S. paying close attention to investigation. We call on all parties to avoid an atmosphere of revenge and retribution,” she wrote.
Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog (Labor) told foreign journalists that Israel would not allow extremists on either the Israeli or Palestinian side to dictate the government’s agenda. He added that if Khdeir had been murdered for nationalist reasons, it was an act of terror.
MK Ahmed Tibi, who toured Shoafat yesterday with other members of his Ra’am-Ta’al faction, called for a swift investigation and the punishment of those responsible.
“Palestinian blood is no less valuable than the blood of settlers, and for the mother it is even more important than the whole of Israel and the entire world.”