The uncle of the slain Israeli teenager Naftali Fraenkel offered his condolences Sunday in a phone call to Hussein Abu Khdeir, whose 16-year-old son was murdered last week in what police believe was a revenge killing by Jewish extremists.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he too spoke to Abu Khdeir and, on behalf of the residents of Jerusalem, condemned the killing of his son Mohammed.
The call came hours after two Palestinians from the Hebron area paid a visit to the grieving Fraenkel family.
“We expressed our deep empathy with their sorrow, from one bereaved family to another bereaved family,” Yishai Fraenkel said, according to the Ynet news website. “I think it’s very good they seem to have found the culprits. We expressed our absolute disgust with what had happened. He accepted our statements, it was important for him to hear it.”
Fraenkel added that “there is no difference between those who murdered Muhammed, and those who murdered our children. Those are murderers, and these are murderers. And both must be dealt with to the full extent of the law, and we told him that.”
Earlier Sunday, two Palestinians from the Gush Etzion area, accompanied by the head of the Gush Etzion religious council, Rabbi Rafi Ostroff, arrived at the Fraenkel’s Nof Ayalon residence where the family is in the midst of the traditional seven-day mourning period.
One of the visitors told the Hebrew NRG website that Fraenkel’s statements last week after Abu Khdeir’s murder “touched a large portion of the Palestinian people.”
“I come from a bereaved family, I lost my brother and I have family that were former prisoners, unfortunately we also threw stones at you. What can you do?” he said.
In a statement last week, the Fraenkels condemned the murder of Abu Khdeir, saying in a statement that “There is no difference when it comes to blood. Murder is murder; there is no justification, forgiveness or atonement for any murder.”
“The moment we learn to deal with each other’s pain and stop the anger against one another, the situation will be better,” the visitor said. “Our mission is to strengthen the family and also to take a step forward towards the liberation of my people. We believe that only through the hearts of the Jews will our liberation happen.”
He described the warm welcome the Fraenkels gave him, and said: “We are sorry for any harm against people, whether Jewish or Muslim. We don’t want anyone to be hurt, and want to reach a political agreement.”
The two Palestinians also described an upcoming initiative called the “Hunger Strike Against Violence,” next Tuesday, on which the Jewish fast of the 17 of Tammuz coincides with the ongoing Muslim Ramadan holiday.
“Palestinians that I knew wanted to come visit and console the families, so I brought them,” Ostroff said. “The family welcomed them in a remarkable way. They didn’t even think twice to let them in; it was obvious to them that it was okay.”
Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Eyal Yifrach, 19, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, were abducted and killed by Hamas-linked terrorists on June 12 in the West Bank. Their bodies were uncovered in Halhul, near Hebron, last week after an 18-day search. Israel believes Hamas members Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha, both from Hebron, are responsible, but the terror group denied its involvement and the two have yet to be apprehended.
Hours after the three were laid to rest on Tuesday afternoon, 16-year-old East Jerusalem resident Muhammed Abu Khdeir was snatched and, according to Palestinian sources, burnt to death. His charred body was found in the Jerusalem Forest Wednesday morning.
Police arrested six Jewish suspects Sunday, a number of them minors, in connection with the case. According to Hebrew media reports, one of the suspects confessed to the crime, implicating a number of others.