The Jerusalem District Court indicted three suspects on Thursday for the July 2 abduction and killing of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir in an alleged revenge attack for the killing of three Israeli teens three weeks earlier.
The state prosecution asserted that, hours after the three Israeli teens were laid to rest, the three strangled and beat the East Jerusalem teenager, and while he was unconscious, burned him to death in the Jerusalem forest.
The indictment also charged two of the defendants with the attempted kidnapping of a seven-year-old Palestinian boy in Beit Hanina the night before the murder, an attempt to burn Palestinian cars, and arson against a Palestinian store in the West Bank village of Hizme in June.
The indictment said that the three went on “a human hunt,” during which they “cruelly kidnapped and murdered the minor Muhammed Abu Khdeir simply for being an Arab.”
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein strongly condemned the “grave and shocking” crime, which was “carried out against an innocent youth on racist grounds,” and “opposes basic human morality.”
The indicted include a 29-year-old resident of Adam, in the West Bank, and two 16-year-olds — one from Jerusalem, the other from Beit Shemesh. According to the indictment, the adult and one of the minors have a history of mental illness and are presently on medication.
The two are expected to submit an insanity plea.
Immediately after the killing, the suspects said they went to the older defendant’s home, where they “played guitar, and went to sleep.”
The three have confessed to the killing and reenacted it in the police interrogation. They said it was meant to avenge the June 12 killing of the three Israeli teenagers — Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16 — who were laid to rest a day before the murder of Abu Khdeir.
They said that following the discovery of the three bodies on June 30, two of the defendants plotted to harm Arabs in retaliation. The night the bodies were found, they attempted to snatch the 7-year-old Beit Hanina child, but were fought off by the boy’s mother.
The next night, the third defendant in tow, they drove around again to find a victim and abducted Abu Khdeir.
The indictment states the three, who were raised in Orthodox families, changed their clothes to look like secular Israelis, filled bottles with gasoline, and brought along handcuffs.
While scouting out potential victims, they spoke with various children, but decided not to abduct them and briefly considered kidnapping an adult. The three then saw Abu Khdeir sitting on the side, and approached him to determine if he was a Palestinian. They asked him for directions to Tel Aviv and Damascus Gate, and he began to respond before growing suspicious and attempting to call his friends for help. The defendants then grabbed the struggling teenager, pushed him in the car, and beat him with a tire iron.
Upon reaching the forest, the adult suspect shouted “This is for the Fogel family!” “This is for Shalhevet Pass!” in reference to previous Israeli terror victims, while striking Abu Khdeir. He then hit him three more times for the slain Israeli teenagers.
The killing of Abu Khdeir sparked riots among Israel’s Arab population throughout the country, and drew fierce domestic and international condemnation. Seven suspects were initially arrested, but four were released days later.