Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again strongly denounced on Thursday the murder of a Palestinian teenager in an act that he called “a despicable crime.”
Speaking at an event to mark upcoming American Independence Day that was held at the home of US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro on Thursday night, the prime minister recalled Muhammed Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian teen whose July 2 death sparked riots in East Jerusalem.
“In both our lands, the rights of the individual are sacred,” Netanyahu said. “The foremost right without which the others cannot exist, is the right to live.”
“I unequivocally condemn the murder of a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem two days ago,” he continued, and noted that the police investigation into the crime was still ongoing.
“We don’t know yet the motives or identities of the perpetrators, but we will. We will bring to justice the criminals responsible of this despicable crime whoever they may be.”
In the Shuafat neighborhood, where Abu Khdeir lived, dozens of Arabs blocked roads with dumpsters and hurled rocks for the second day running. Police responded with riot control munitions.
“Murder, riots, incitement, vigilantism — they have no place in our democracy,” Netanyahu said.
Tensions have soared since June 12 when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped while hitchhiking in the West Bank. Their bodies were found on Monday afternoon near Hebron, with Israel blaming Hamas and vowing to hit it hard. Two Hamas members, Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha, who disappeared on June 12, have been named by Israel as the prime suspects and are still at large.
The East Jerusalem riots broke out minutes after Abu Khdeir’s body was found in the Jerusalem Forest on Wednesday morning.
Police officials have told The Times of Israel they were investigating two possible motives: that Khdeir was killed in a family honor killing, or that it was a nationalistically motivated slaying. According to officials familiar with the investigation, investigators increasingly view the killing as a revenge attack perpetrated by Jewish terrorists.