Three of the six people arrested Sunday in connection with the murder of East Jerusalem teen Muhammed Abu Khdeir were released to house arrest Thursday after police determined they had not taken part in the killing, despite being linked to those suspected in the crime.
The three remaining suspects, one adult from the West Bank settlement of Adam and two minors from Jerusalem, were certainly behind the deadly assault of the Arab teen, police asserted. The three prime suspects in the killing confessed to the crime and reenacted it after they were brought by police to the spot in the Jerusalem Forest where Khdeir’s beaten and burned body was found, officials said.
Investigators are convinced the murder was carried out in revenge for the killing of three Israeli teenagers last month.
Attorney Adi Kaidar, who represents two of the six suspects, one of whom was released to house arrest, said that though the incident was shocking, the police had no right to hold anyone without charge for such an extended period of time. The Shin Bet had forbidden the suspects form consulting with a lawyer until Thursday, Haaretz reported.
“These three [who were released] had no connection to [the case], and it’s very grave that they were held for this long,” Kaidar said.
Little information has been released about the identity of the suspects.
According to police reports, most of the six people arrested are minors, and most of them are members of the same well known Sephardi ultra-Orthodox family.
Shas party spiritual leader Shalom Cohen on Monday heavily condemned the murder and implied that anyone behind such an act deserved to be killed.
“Those whose hands are stained with the blood of innocents, the Law of ‘Rodef’ applies to them, and it is impossible to describe the punishment they will receive from heaven,” Cohen said.
“Rodef” is a biblical categorization that allows for the killing of person who has set out to murder innocents.
Aryeh Deri, the Shas party chairman said that the murder had stained the entire Jewish community.
“Murder is murder is murder,” Deri wrote on his Facebook page.
“The rest of us now have to deal with the fact that we have sunk into such a state. Those who murdered an innocent child just because he was an Arab did not only murder a boy from Shuafat, they murdered an entire nation’s identity, they labeled us all as killers of children.”
“There is no forgiveness for these murderers; they should rot in their cell until their last day,” he concluded.
On Wednesday, a seventh suspect was arrested in connection with the case, but was released after several hours of interrogation.
Last Wednesday morning, Abu Khdeir’s charred body was found in the Jerusalem forest. Palestinian Authority attorney-general, Dr. Muhammed Abed al-Ghani al-Aweiwi, said that Abu Khdeir was burned alive, according to the preliminary findings of an autopsy.
The murder set off days of violent protests in East Jerusalem and northern Israel.
According to Channel 2, days before the kidnapping and murder, three of the suspects had scouted out the Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem, where Abu Khdeir’s family resides, and attempted unsuccessfully to kidnap an Arab child, later named as 9-year-old Musa Zalum.
Video images showing the faces of two of the suspected kidnappers and murderers of Abu Khdeir were uploaded to YouTube earlier Sunday.
The footage came from a security camera that had been stationed on a building owned by Abu Khdeir’s father, Hussein, and was recorded on a mobile phone during a police investigation.
In the video, two young men are seen conversing with a third person, presumably Abu Khdeir, who is not visible in the frame. According to police, Abu Khdeir was forced into a vehicle moments later. After the kidnapping, several bystanders who witnessed the incident tried to chase the car before returning to Shuafat to notify Abu Khdeir’s parents. At 4:05 a.m, Abu Khdeir’s father called police. The teenager’s body was located within an hour, after his cellphone was tracked by police.