Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in East Jerusalem Thursday to commemorate the first anniversary of a teenager being burned to death in an alleged Israeli revenge attack in the run-up to the Gaza war.
Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16, was abducted and killed on July 2, 2014, weeks after the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. The bodies of the three Israelis had only just been found following a massive search.
Those incidents were part of a spiral of violence that led to a 50-day war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas that killed more than 2,200 people, making 2014 the bloodiest year of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to the UN.
Protesters in the streets of Abu Khdeir’s Shuafat neighborhood waved Palestinian flags and held up posters and images of the boy in a beige baseball cap, an AFP correspondent said.
“Muhammed Abu Khdeir, July 2, 2014: They kidnapped, tortured and burned you. Be a witness to their crimes,” banners read.
Israeli riot police and vehicles were deployed in force in Shuafat, the scene of riots following the killing.
Abu Khdeir was kidnapped from East Jerusalem, and his burned body was found hours later in a forest in the western part of the city.
Three Israelis were eventually charged with murder in his slaying, saying it was in revenge for the abduction and killing of the three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.
They are currently on trial in Jerusalem.
The boy’s father, Hussein Abu Khder, told AFP Thursday he wanted to see them put away for life.
“We’ve been through a really hard time. They burned him alive, and we burn inside now,” he said.
“His mother cries just at the mention of his name. I’m trying to be strong in front of my children, who’ve been traumatized by the death of their brother,” he said.
“The most important thing is that justice is pursued for my son. I want his killers to spend the rest of their lives behind bars, with no pardon.”
Hussein Abu Khdeir and his wife, Suha, were received Wednesday by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who awarded them the Jerusalem Medal, an official PA honorific. A city square will also be named after the late teen.
The June 2014 abduction of the three Israeli teens — Naftali Frenkel, Gil-ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach — from a hitchhiking stop near Hebron sparked a vast Israeli search operation in which hundreds of Palestinians were arrested and at least five killed.
Israel blamed the kidnappings on Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls Gaza.
The brutal revenge killing of Abu Khdeir was followed by an uptick in rocket fire from Gaza, and the launch on July 8 of a full-scale Israeli military operation against the Palestinian enclave.