Two weeks after the brutal slaying of East Jerusalem teen Muhammed Abu Khdeir, and nearly 10 days after the apprehension of seven suspects in his killing, the Shin Bet security service released the results of its investigation Monday, including a complete timeline of events on the night of Abu Khdeir’s killing.
Of the seven people arrested, four were released to house arrest July 10 after police determined they had not taken part in the killing, despite being linked to those suspected in the crime. The three primary suspects, who are related to one another, were remanded in custody on Monday.
According to the Shin Bet, the primary suspects, one aged 30, reportedly from the West Bank settlement of Adam – the two others are reportedly minors from Jerusalem — confessed to the brutal crime of kidnapping Abu Khdeir, 16, off the street in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, early on July 2, beating him and setting him on fire, apparently while he was still alive.
They said that Abu Khdeir’s killing was revenge for the killing of Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, last month, the Shin Bet said in a statement.
The suspects’ testimonies also revealed that the alleged crime was premeditated, and that they obtained supplies — including handcuffs and gasoline — in advance.
The investigation found that Abu Khdeir was chosen at random, and had no previous relationship with his alleged killers.
The investigation also confirmed Palestinian reports that Abu Khdeir’s killing followed an attempt to snatch an eight-year-old Palestinian boy the night before, at around 1 a.m., by two of the three suspects. That abduction was prevented, investigators have concluded (also in keeping with Palestinian reports), by the boy’s mother driving away the attackers.
The two suspects left the scene of the attempted abduction and tried to set cars on fire in East Jerusalem that they believed belonged to Arabs.
The following night, at about 3:48 a.m. on July 2, after hours of driving around Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, the suspects saw Abu Khdeir and decided to murder him, the Shin Bet said.
They allegedly nabbed him off the street, drove to the Jerusalem Forest and pulled him out of the car. The adult suspect then hit the Palestinian youth in the head multiple times with a tire iron, and set him on fire with the aid of one of the minors, the Shin Bet said.
According to investigators, the three spent the following few days attempting to destroy evidence of the crime.
One of the other four, who were released to house arrest, told investigators that he knew about the crime after it had taken place.
Until Monday, most of the details of the case were under a gag order imposed by the Petah Tikvah District Court. The gag order was lifted on all details of the investigation except the suspects’ identities, which the court said were being kept secret in order to prevent additional rounds of revenge attacks against the suspects’ families.
Earlier Monday it was revealed that the adult prime suspect had once attempted to kill his own infant daughter.
Court documents showed that the suspect confessed to trying to strangle the girl and was only prevented from achieving his aim when his wife walked in on him during the attempt, he said in a confession to police at the time.
The confession was part of a successful temporary insanity plea.
The suspect is also apparently pursuing a defense strategy centered on an insanity plea in the Abu Khdeir killing.