Updates out of Israel: Netanyahu says murderers of Palestinian teen to face full weight of law

Netanyahu: Murderers of Palestinian teen to face ‘full weight of law’

JERUSALEM, July 6, 3:15 p.m. (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged following arrests in the murder of a Palestinian teen that the killers “will face the full weight of the law.”

Israel’s Shin Bet security service announced Sunday that it had arrested “several Jewish suspects” in the kidnap and murder of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khieder, whose body was found July 2 in the Jerusalem forest.

Sending his condolences to the victim’s family, Netanyahu said Sunday, “I pledge that the perpetrators of this horrific crime, which must be resolutely condemned in the most forceful language, I pledge that the perpetrators of this horrific crime will face the full weight of the law. I know that in our society, the society of Israel, there is no place for such murderers.

“And that’s the difference between us and our neighbors. They consider murderers to be heroes. They name public squares after them. We don’t. We condemn them and we put them on trial and we’ll put them in prison,” he said. “We do not differentiate between the terrorists and we will respond to all of them, wherever they come from, with a firm hand.”

Netanyahu made his remarks in Nof Ayalon, where he paid a condolence call to the family of Naftali Fraenkel, one of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers found dead last week after an 18-day search.

Netanyahu also pledged to capture the murderers of Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, who have been identified by Israeli security services.

“The Palestinian Authority is obliged to do everything in its power to find them, just as we did, just as our security forces located the suspects in the murder of Mohammed Abu Khieder within a matter of days,” he said.

One of the suspects arrested in connection with Kieder’s murder had confessed and implicated other suspects, who also confessed under Shin Bet interrogation, the Israeli media reported.


After night of violent clashes in Qalansawe, protesters back to the streets

Saturday, July 5, 5:48 p.m. (Ynetnews.com) – After a night of violent clashes in the Triangle area, during which Jewish civilians were attacked by Arab protesters in Qalansawe, masked demonstrators returned to the streets on Saturday afternoon, burning tires in the entrance to the Arab city.

Dozens of Qalansawe residents were rioting and police’s Yasam forces were stationed some 300 meters from the protesters, ready to maintain the order should the rioting gets out of hand.

Qalansawe Mayor Abdel Baset Salame urged residents not to go out on the streets and to refrain from disrupting the peace.

Meanwhile, some 400 Tayibe residents were protesting near the main road. Protesters were calling out “we will sacrifice our lives and our blood for Al-Aqsa.” They said they will continue fighting the IDF in the West Bank.

Yasam forces that were stationed at the scene to maintain the peace warned the protesters that if they do not leave the scene, they will be dispersed by force.

As a result of the rioting, Route 5614, that leads from Highway 57 to Qalansawe and Tayibe as well as to Highway 444, was closed for traffic.

A bloody night
The recent violent riots in the Arab sector first broke out on Friday as Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian youth some believe was killed by far-right Israelis, was laid to rest.

The boy’s father spoke to Ynet and said he demanded Israel find his son’s killer and destroy his house, as it did for the killers of the three Israeli teens found dead after being presumed kidnapped since June.

Hostility that had simmered since Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel were abducted on June 12, triggering army sweeps of the West Bank, boiled over this week upon the discovery of their bodies and the Palestinian’s slaying after they were laid to rest.

Towards midnight Friday, the riots spread to Arab communities in the Triangle area, including Qalansawe, Tayibe, Tira and Baqa al-Gharbiyye.

On Friday night, masked protestors who were standing on the road asked passing drivers whether they were Jewish or Arab. Two Jewish drivers who answered in Hebrew were forced out of their vehicles and attacked by the protestors. The two drivers sustained light injuries.

One driver was able to get back into his car and fled the scene while the other driver fled the scene on foot, leaving behind his vehicle, which was set on fire and burned completely.

In another incident in Qalansawe, another vehicle with two Jewish civilian inside was attacked. The two, who were also asked whether they were Jewish, managed to escape but sustained light injuries and damage was caused to their vehicle.

The rioters also attacked the private car of a police officer in uniform, who fled the scene on foot, leaving the car behind. In another incident, a motorcycle rider was knocked off his vehicle when rioters hurled a stone at him. Yarkon Area Magen David Adom team evacuated the man, who sustained light injuries, to the Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba.

Dozens of protestors also demonstrated near Route 444 at the entrance to Tayibe, burning cars and throwing stones at police officers. Dignitaries of Tayibe called for peace and for an end to the protests.

Residents of Tayibe also protested against the arrest of three city residents on Friday night. During the riots, five people were lightly wounded from tear gas and stun grenades used by police forces to disperse the crowd.

In Baqa al-Gharbiyye, masked protestors burned tires on the main road. City dignitaries arrived at the scene and dispersed the rioters.

At the entrance of kibbutz Magal, near the village of Jat in the northern Triangle, vandals set thistles on fire, causing the main entrance gate to catch on fire. A team of fire fighters rushed to the area and managed to control the fire. The police opened an investigation into the incident.

Following the riots, 12 residents of the Wadi Ara area were arrested, on suspicion of throwing stones at vehicles on Highway 65, a major highway in northern Israel.


More riots erupt in eastern Jerusalem over youth’s slaying

July 4, 8:23 a.m. (JTA) – Israeli police prevented dozens of Palestinian rioters from breaking through a gate into Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound in violence connected to the slaying of a Palestinian youth.

The attempt to break into the compound through the Old City Chain Gate was one of a number of violent clashes on Friday between police and Palestinians expressing outrage over the murder of a Palestinian boy earlier this week, Army Radio reported.

The 16-year-old boy, Muhammed Abu Khieder, was abducted from his eastern Jerusalem neighborhood in what police suspect may have been a reprisal by Jewish extremists for the June 12 abduction and murders of three Israeli youths in the West Bank. Abu Kheider’s burnt body was found outside Jerusalem.

His funeral is scheduled for Friday. Police are looking into his death and upped security in Jerusalem in anticipation of riots before and after the funeral.

In addition to the Chain Gate incident, clashes occurred also near Ma’aleh Hazeitim, a Jewish neighborhood bordering on the Arab neighborhood of Ras al-Amud. A large riot involving hundreds of Arabs happened at Wadi al-Joz, another Arab neighborhood of east Jerusalem.

Additional incidents happened near Ramallah, where Palestinians hurled firebombs and stones at Israeli troops in three locations. Eight Palestinians were wounded when the Israeli soldiers fired back at the rioters, Haaretz reported.

The clashes occurred amid reports that Hamas and Israel were nearing an understanding that would end the exchange of fire between Gaza, where militants fired dozens of rockets at Israel over the past week, and Israel, which retaliated with aerial strikes on Hamas targets in the Strip.

But during a tour of Sderot, an Israeli city that is regularly targeted with rockets by Hamas and other Palestinian groups, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said that declaring a ceasefire would be “a serious mistake, “according to Army Radio.

“We do not accept the approach of appeasing Hamas,” he said. “We do not accept a situation where Hamas dictates the sequence of events – they decide when to escalate, when to deescalate, controlling the flames, initiating when we only react.”


Amid rocket barrage, southern Israelis told to stay near shelters

JERUSALEM, July 3 (JTA) – At least 15 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel over the course of an hour.

Hours after Hamas’ military wing threatened Israel, Thursday’s barrage struck buildings and caused fires, and a soldier was injured from shrapnel. Residents of Israeli communities near the Gaza border were instructed to remain within 15 seconds of a bomb shelter.

As Israeli troops moved toward the Gaza border, a spokesman for the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades told reporters in the coastal strip, “The threat of an Israeli military action against the Gaza Strip does not scare us. It only hastens the hour of our revenge against Israel, and an opportunity to teach it a lesson.

He added, “I promise you that one stupid move by your leaders will be enough to make us turn all of your communities, even those you might not expect, into targets and burning coals,” he said.

Some high school students in Sderot on Thursday sat for their matriculation exams as the rockets fell on the city.
More than 30 rockets have hit Israel in the 24 hours since Wednesday evening, according to the Israeli military.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the residents of southern Israel for their fortitude in the wake of the onslaught of rockets.

“The strength you are demonstrating allows us to act determinedly and responsibly towards one goal – your security, all our security,” Netanyahu said Thursday evening at an Independence Day celebration at the home of the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Netanyahu spoke of two possibilities in southern Israel, including the end to rocket fire from Gaza.

“The second possibility is that the firing at our communities in the South will continue and then the reinforcement forces that are located in the field will act forcefully,” he said.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein on Thursday announced that it would make emergency funds available to regional councils in southern Israel to provide activities for children under fire during the summer and to help those families whose homes have been damaged by rocket fire.


Israeli soldiers jailed after public call for revenge in teens’ murder

JERUSALEM, July 3 (JTA) – Seven Israeli soldiers were sentenced to prison for posting photos calling for retaliation for the murder of three Israeli teenagers.

The military handed down a 10-day term for the soldiers on Thursday after they posted the photos on Facebook calling for revenge for the killing of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach.

Thousands of Israelis, including active soldiers, have posted calls on social media calling for revenge, including a Facebook page with over 32,000 likes called “The People of Israel Demand Vengeance!” The page was
taken down Thursday.

Also Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his condemnation of the murder of a Palestinian teen whose body was found a day earlier, hours after he was forced into a car and kidnapped from eastern Jerusalem.

“Vigilantes have no place in our democracy,” the Israeli prime minister said Thursday evening at an Independence Day celebration at the home of the U.S. ambassador to Israel. “Our security forces continue to investigate the background to the shocking murder of the boy whose body was found in the Jerusalem forest. Whatever the motive may be, this murder must be strongly condemned and we will bring those responsible for this crime to justice.”

Netanyahu continued, “I appeal to all the citizens of Israel and ask you: Please exercise restraint in your actions and words. Our hearts ache, our blood boils, but we must remember that we are, first and foremost, human beings and we are citizens of a law-abiding country. We are making decisions in a responsible, cool-headed and considered manner. The American people, who experienced terrible terrorist attacks on its own soil, empathizes with our fight and we empathize with their fight.”

An autopsy was performed Thursday on Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir. His funeral is set for Friday afternoon after Muslim prayers.

Jerusalem police denied the family’s request to begin the funeral at the Temple Mount, according to Haaretz. Police fear the funeral will spark additional riots and violence.


Tensions high in Israel following death of Palestinian teen

JERUSALEM, JULY 2 (AP) – A Palestinian teen was abducted and killed Wednesday, Palestinians said, accusing Israeli settlers of carrying out a revenge attack for the deaths of three Israeli youths. The accusation sparked clashes with Israeli forces and demands by the Palestinian president that Israel hold the killers accountable.

The latest claim stoked tensions already heightened by the deaths of the three Israeli teens, whose bodies were found this week 18 days after they were abducted in the West Bank, and a surge in fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Just hours after Israel buried the three teens, relatives of Mohammed Abu Khdeir said the 17-year-old was forced into a car in a neighborhood of east Jerusalem before it sped off. A burned body was found shortly afterward in a Jerusalem forest.

The youth’s relatives said they believed he was killed by extremist Israelis to avenge the deaths of the Israeli teenagers.

“Who else could do this? There’s no one else,” said Saed Abu Khdeir, the teen’s father. He said he had spent the day with police and given DNA samples to help identify the body, and was waiting for 100 percent confirmation from a forensics lab.

As of Wednesday evening, police said the testing was still ongoing. Police were also reviewing security camera footage taken from the scene. Relatives said the video showed a car nearing the youth, people stepping out and then forcing him into the vehicle as it drove away.

In the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused extremist Jewish settlers of “killing and burning a little boy” and demanded that Israel “hold the killers accountable.”

As news of the youth’s disappearance spread, hundreds of Palestinians in east Jerusalem torched light rail train stations and hurled stones at Israeli police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on authorities to swiftly investigate the “reprehensible murder” and urged all sides “not to take the law into their own hands.”

In Washington, the Obama administration condemned the killing as a “heinous murder” and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

In a series of posts on Twitter, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the U.S. was paying close attention to the investigation into the teen’s death and sent condolences to his family and the Palestinian people.

Secretary of State John Kerry called the killing “sickening” and said “there are no words to convey adequately our condolences to the Palestinian people.”

On Tuesday, hundreds of right-wing Jewish youths marched through Jerusalem, calling for revenge for the deaths of the Israeli teens, who Israel says were abducted and killed by Hamas militants. Israeli security forces have arrested hundreds of Hamas operatives across the West Bank.

Meanwhile, rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has intensified, and been met with Israeli airstrikes.

The barrage continued Wednesday, with the military saying nine mortar shells were launched from Gaza into Israel. It said Israel responded with an airstrike on one of the launch sites, scoring a “direct hit.” There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The clashes in east Jerusalem continued throughout the day. At midafternoon, masked men holed up in a mosque in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina lobbed rocks toward Israeli security forces in the street below. Police responded by firing stun grenades toward the mosque.

The street was largely deserted and littered with rocks and debris, as a small fire set next to a trash bin spewed black smoke into the air. There were no reports of injuries.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said security was heightened following the clashes, with extra units dispatched and light rail service suspended because of the violence. Police also closed a key holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City to visitors after rock throwing there.

Israeli officials urged calm as police investigated the incidents.

“Everything is being examined. There are many possibilities. There is a criminal possibility, as well as a political one,” Israel’s public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, told Israel Radio. “I am telling everyone, let us wait patiently.”

The incident elicited international condemnation, with the U.N. envoy, Robert Serry, calling on all sides “not to further exacerbate an already tense atmosphere.”

On Tuesday, thousands of Israelis attended the funerals of Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, who has dual Israel-American citizenship, whose bodies were found Monday in a field near the West Bank city of Hebron. Their disappearance gripped the country and the discovery of their bodies prompted an outpouring of grief.

Also Wednesday, Israel demolished the West Bank home of Ziad Awad, who was found guilty by a military court of killing an Israeli police officer in April. The demolition marked a return to a policy abandoned by the military in 2005. Israel sees house demolitions as a deterrent to violence, while critics charge it is a form of collective punishment.

In a separate incident, Palestinians in the West Bank town of Aqrabeh said their home was set on fire and the Hebrew words for “price tag” sprayed on the walls.

Radical Israeli settlers have been carrying out so-called “price tag” acts of vandalism in recent years to protest what they perceive as the Israeli government’s pro-Palestinian policies and in retaliation for Palestinian attacks.

The vandals have targeted mosques, churches, dovish Israeli groups and even Israeli military bases.


Israel said to accept U.S. offer in search for teens’ murderers

WASHINGTON, JULY 2 (JTA) – Israel accepted U.S. assistance in its search for the murderers of three kidnapped teenagers, U.S. deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said.

“We’ve just offered to provide whatever assistance we can,” Rhodes said Tuesday in a briefing for the foreign press when asked what the United States has done to assist in the matter.

“They’ve accepted, but at the same time, in their own neighborhood, they tend to have substantial intelligence resources and law enforcement resources,” he said.

Rhodes did not elaborate, but suggested that the assistance was so far limited to shared information.
“Insofar as we have any information, we are going to share that with them,” he said.

Rhodes called on Israel to show restraint in its pursuit of justice for the killers. At least five Palestinians have been killed in clashes during a sweep of the West Bank since the June 12 kidnapping of Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel and the discovery of their bodies on Monday.

“Israel needs to be very careful to not be so heavy-handed in its response that they’re further destabilizing the situation, and they need to respect the dignity of the Palestinian people,” he said. “And so that’s what we’ll continue to urge going forward, and ultimately that’s what’s going to be in their best interests.”

Rhodes also addressed the latest round of nuclear talks between the major powers and Iran beginning Wednesday in Vienna, commending the Iranians for complying with the terms of reducing nuclear capability governing the talks but adding that they are not compromising toward a long-term solution.

“They’ve been very optimistic in their public comments about reaching agreement, but we are going to need to see them take additional steps in the negotiations for there to be a comprehensive resolution,” he said.


In full recording of teen’s emergency call, kidnappers heard celebrating

JERUSALEM, JULY 2 (JTA) – The full recording of the emergency call placed by one of three abducted teens, in which the kidnappers can be heard celebrating, was released.
Wednesday’s release of the full audio, which is 2 minutes, 9 seconds, comes a day after the first 49 seconds were released.

In the full tape, the kidnappers are heard singing in Arabic and cheering, as well as calling out “three!”
In the earlier recording, the teen who placed the call – believed to be Gilad Shaar – says he has been kidnapped. The kidnappers are heard yelling at the teens prior to sounds believed to be gunfire.

Blood and bullet casings reportedly were found in the burnt-out car that is believed to have been used to abduct the teens on June 12. Their bodies were found Monday night in a West Bank field near Hebron.

Gilad’s mother told Ynet on Wednesday that the recording was not released until after the bodies of her son, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach were found out of fear that they would punish him if he were being held captive. The full recording can be heard on Ynet as part of the interview with Bat-Galim Shaar.

Police told the families that the gunshots heard in the recording could be blanks or that the guns were fired out the window, since casings were found outside of the burned-out car, she said.

“We had real hope that they were alive,” Shaar told Ynet.
The call was transferred to the operator’s supervisor, who also tried to speak to the caller. The supervisor reportedly called back eight times, first receiving no answer then being transferred to voice mail.

The supervisor did not report the call, believing it to be a prank. Several senior officers were demoted Monday after the release of an investigation that found “severe failure of conduct” in the handling of the call.