Rachelle Fraenkel, the mother of slain teen Naftali Fraenkel, offered her condolences Monday evening to the family of 16-year-old Muhammed Abu Khdeir, whose burned body was found in the Jerusalem forest on Wednesday morning after he was apparently murdered by a group of Jewish extremists. Several of six Jewish suspects arrested for Abu Khdeir’s murder reenacted the crime earlier Monday, police said.
“Even in the abyss of mourning for Gil-Ad, Eyal and Naftali, it is difficult for me to describe how distressed we are by the outrage committed in Jerusalem – the shedding of innocent blood in defiance of all morality, of the Torah, of the foundation of the lives of our boys and of all of us in this country,” Fraenkel said.
“Only the murderers of our sons, along with those who sent them and those who helped them and incited them to murder – and not innocent people – will be brought to justice: by the army, the police, and the judiciary; not by vigilantes. No mother or father should ever have to go through what we are going through, and we share the pain of Mohammed’s parents”
Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, were kidnapped by Hamas-linked terrorists on the night of June 12 at a hitchhiking post south of Jerusalem, and they were killed soon afterwards. Their bodies were uncovered in Halhul, near Hebron, last Monday after an 18-day search.
“The legacy of Naftali, Gil-Ad and Eyal is one of love, of humanity, of national unity, and of integrity,” Fraenkel added.
“Alongside the pain of this terrible act, we take pride in our country’s zeal to investigate, to arrest the criminals and to stop the horror, and we hope that calm will return to the streets of our country.”
Hours after the three Jewish teenagers were laid to rest on Tuesday afternoon, Abu Khdeir was kidnapped and later burned to death. Police arrested six Jewish suspects Sunday, a number of them minors, in connection with the case. According to Hebrew media reports, three of the suspects confessed to the crime, implicating a number of others.
On Monday, Hussein Abu Khdeir, Muhammed Abu Khdeir’s father, asserted that there was no evidence that the murderers of Gil-ad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel, and Eyal Yifrach, were not Jews.
In a conversation with the grandfather of Gil-ad Shaar, Shmuel Shai Cohen, on Channel 2, the father of the slain East Jerusalem teenager said that while suspects were held for burning his son alive, it remains “unknown” who is behind the murder of the three Israeli teenagers. “Bring me someone who said they killed them,” Abu Khdeir said.
Israel believes Hamas members Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha, both from Hebron, are responsible; the terror group denied its involvement and the two have yet to be apprehended.
Officials suspect that the killing of Abu Khdeir was most likely carried out by Jewish extremists in revenge for the killing of the three Israeli teenagers. An official speaking on the condition of anonymity told the Associated Press that authorities believe the killing was “nationalistic” in nature.
According to Channel 2, days before the kidnapping and murder, three of the suspects had scouted out the area in East Jerusalem and attempted unsuccessfully to kidnap an Arab child, 9-year-old Musa Zalum.
Police initially said they were investigating various avenues in the teen’s death, including criminal or personal motives, while Israeli social media abounded with rumors that he had been killed because he was gay or as part of an ongoing family feud.
In East Jerusalem, Abu Khdeir’s mother, Suha, welcomed news of the arrests but said she had little faith in the Israeli justice system.
“I don’t have any peace in my heart. Even if they captured who they say killed my son,” she said. “They’re only going to ask them questions and then release them. What’s the point?”
“They need to treat them the way they treat us. They need to demolish their homes and round them up, the way they do to our children,” she added.
Abu Khdeir’s killing sparked widespread violent protests throughout East Jerusalem and in other parts of Israel.
On Thursday, the parents of 15-year-old Tariq Abu Khdeir, Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s cousin, charged that their son had been beaten by Israeli police. The 15-year-old, who is a US citizen, was arrested in Shuafat during clashes between stone-throwers and Israeli riot police.