“It’s not possible”: these were the astonished words expressed throughout Israel yesterday afternoon, for the feared scenario has come true. The seventeen year old Palestinian boy, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was kidnapped and killed, appears to have been abducted and murdered by a group of Israeli extremist criminals. Six people of various ages were arrested yesterday, five of whom have been charged; suspected of being members of the same family living in the Jerusalem area, and who are neither settlers nor members of a religious group, it is reported, butwho are quite simply fanatical, ignorant racists with criminal records.
No rabbi or Kahanist organization (taking its name from rabbi Kahane, who was expelled with his racist party from the Israeli Parliament) seems to be behind the killing. The group was identified primarily with CCTV in Shuafat-Beit Hanina, a five minute drive from Jerusalem, which made possibile to identify the car with which Mohammed had been abducted. It would appear (but the news is still uncertain) that the murder was conducted by members of this autonomous group, who after the hearing the news ofthe three young murdered Israelis, and after hours of shouting “death to the Arabs” during a rally in Zion Square, decided to carry out its diabolical act.
The group is reported to have gone to Shuafat, grabbed the first person they came across, and cruelly burnt him alive. Identifying the killers has proven straight forward because they did not do any of the things murderers normally do to avoid being identified, for example, leaving their mobile phones at home, or disguising their activities. The Israeli police searched for them strenuously, found them and brought them (if they are the real culprits) to prison. The judges will now do their job, the public is horrified and incredulous: repeatedly saying this has nothing to do with Judaism nor with Israel. Italy had its Red Brigade, Germany its Rote Arme Fraction, the U.S. the Ku Klux Klan, and these groups have not changed the national character of these countries, but are criminal minorities to be imprisoned.
But nothing like this has happened in the Palestinian Autonomy: the murders of the three teenagers are still free and lauded by many; murderers who belong to Hamas, an armed and sovereign organization which is part of the government; an organization which continuously launches missiles from Gaza. Mohammad’s assassination has overshadowed the wave of sympathy for Israel after the abduction and murder of the three Israeli boys. Now, Abu Mazen seems to be saying: we are equal, and is nourishing the mistaken idea of the “cycle of violence”, a consummate key to Palestinian propaganda. Yesterday, Abu Mazen sent a letter to Ban Ki-Moon claiming that the killers are a group of “extremist settlers”, thus raising, between the lines, the territories issue. He has asked for them to be identified as “terrorist organizations”, asking for “an investigation into crimes and violations against the Palestinian people”.
Abu Mazen is referring to search operations that were conducted for the three abducted boys in the area of Hebron, where clashes took place and four people were killed. These deaths were unintentional incidents, but Abu Mazen has used the opportunity to compare Hamas to the “settlers”, inducing also a huge amount of confusion regarding both the search operations – which have been called without reason “a retaliation operation” – and the call for the elimination of Hamas’ missile launchers in Gaza. These are two different things. The missiles are continuing to rain down on southern Israel, making the citizens’ life there impossible, and which the army is trying to stop. The government, at the moment, is conducting the minimum amount of containment activities (Netanyahu has decided to follow a moderate line for as long as possible).
But the repercussions of the events in Gaza, and Jerusalem will be counted on the streets, where Palestinian youths are shouting “Intifada Intifada”, while throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.The effect of the story is so serious as to over shadow the arrest of the Arab taxi driver Hussein Khalifa yesterday, who is suspected of a terrible anti-Israeli crime: the murdering of 19 year-old Shelly Dadon, who two months ago was picked up by Khalifa in his taxi to go to a job interview, and whom Khalifa stabbed to death.