Associated Press & Juan Cole / JuanCole.com & Agence France-Presse & The Guardian & RT News – 2014-07-03 01:37:07
Palestinians Say Israeli Extremists Killed Teen
JERUSALEM (July 2, 2014) — The Palestinians accused Israeli extremists of abducting and killing an Arab teenager and burning his body Wednesday, sparking hours of clashes in east Jerusalem and drawing charges that the youth was murdered to avenge the killings of three kidnapped Israeli teens.
Seeking to calm the explosive situation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged a swift inquiry into the “reprehensible murder” and called on people to respect the rule of law. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it was clear extremist Jewish settlers were responsible and called on Israel to bring the killers to justice.
“The settlers have killed and burned a little boy. They are well known,” Abbas said, accusing Israel of tolerating settler violence toward Palestinians. “I demand that the Israeli government hold the killers accountable.”
The death added to the already heightened tensions caused by the killings of the three Israeli teenagers, whose bodies were discovered Monday just over two weeks after they disappeared in the West Bank.
Israel accused Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, of being behind the abductions, which led to the largest ground operation in the West Bank in nearly a decade, with Israel arresting hundreds of Hamas operatives as part of a broad manhunt.
The discovery of the bodies led to a national outpouring of grief, with tens of thousands of people attending a funeral Tuesday in which the teens were laid to rest side-by-side. As the burial took place, hundreds of young, right-wing Israelis marched through downtown Jerusalem screaming for revenge.
Hours later, relatives of Mohammed Abu Khdeir said the 17-year-old was forced into a car in a neighborhood of east Jerusalem that quickly sped off. A burned body believed to be his was found shortly afterward in a Jerusalem forest, though police said late Wednesday they were still awaiting forensics tests to make a positive identification.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said authorities were looking at “a number of different directions” in the killing, including nationalistic or criminal motives. “We are waiting for the final results of the autopsy,” he said.
But Abu Khdeir’s family said they had no doubt about the killers, accusing extremist Israelis of killing him to avenge the deaths of the Israeli teenagers.
“Who else could do this? There’s no one else,” said the teen’s father, Saed Abu Khdeir. He said he spent the day with police and gave DNA samples to help identify the body.
As of Wednesday evening, police said the testing was still ongoing. Police were also reviewing security camera footage taken from the scene. Relatives said the video showed a car nearing the youth, people stepping out and forcing him into the vehicle and speeding away.
The family of one of the Israeli teens condemned the death of the Palestinian youth. “There is no difference between (Arab) blood and (Jewish) blood. Murder is murder,” said Yishai Fraenkel, an uncle of one of the teens.
As news of the youth’s disappearance spread, hundreds of Palestinians in east Jerusalem took to the streets, torching light-rail train stations and hurling stones at Israeli police, who responded with stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets.
Israel captured east Jerusalem, home to virtually all of the city’s Palestinian population, in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed the area. The Palestinians seek the area as the capital of a future state, and tensions in the volatile eastern sector often boil over into violence.
The clashes continued throughout the day, emptying streets in east Jerusalem’s normally bustling Beit Hanina neighborhood. Masked Palestinians hiding in alleyways and a neighborhood mosque hurled rocks toward Israeli forces, who occasionally responded with stun grenades.
Two people were taken to a hospital with light injuries, police said, and the clashes left a main road littered with stones, debris and burning tires that spewed black smoke into the air.
The atmosphere in east Jerusalem remained tense well past midnight. Hundreds of Palestinians, many of their faces covered, occupied a main road leading into Beit Hanina and the neighborhood of Shuafat. Three train stops were charred. Police continued to patrol the area. Women and children poked their heads out of windows and were repeatedly ordered by Palestinian men to stay inside.
Netanyahu called on authorities to swiftly investigate the “reprehensible murder” and urged all sides “not to take the law into their own hands.”
But international condemnations came quickly.
In Washington, the Obama administration denounced the killing as a “heinous murder” and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
“There are no words to convey adequately our condolences to the Palestinian people,” said Secretary of State John Kerry, calling the killing “sickening.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also called for the perpetrators of the “despicable act” to be promptly brought to justice.
In a statement, the European Union condemned the killing “in the strongest terms” and welcomed Israel’s pledge to investigate. It urged all parties to show “maximum restraint.”
Despite the calls for calm, fighting continued along Israel’s southern border with Gaza.
Late Wednesday, Gaza militants fired a barrage of eight rockets toward southern Israel, for a total of 20 rockets and mortars fired on Israel throughout the day, the army said. It said anti-rocket defenses intercepted two rockets. There were no reports of casualties or damage.
The army said it carried out one airstrike on a mortar-launching site in Gaza, scoring a “direct hit.” The heavy barrage late Wednesday raised the likelihood of further Israeli reprisals.
Early Thursday, a rocket fired from Gaza slammed into a house in the southern Israeli border town of Sderot, causing heavy damage to the structure and a nearby road and knocking out electricity throughout town, the army said. The family was huddled inside a shelter, and no one was hurt, the army said.
Associated Press writers Yousur Alhlou in Jerusalem, Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank, and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Action Alert: Send Condolence Letters to the Bereaved Families
Anat Hoffman /The Pluralist: Newsletter of the Israel Religious Action Center
(July 2, 2014) — How much evil can we bear in one short week?
It is with a sad and heavy heart that I share with you that the body of a 15-year-old boy, Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, was found early this morning in Jerusalem. There are signs of much violence on his body.
Right now, riots are breaking out in his neighborhood Shuafat in East Jerusalem. Last night, the streets of Jerusalem were lined with hundreds of rioters shouting “death to Arabs” and “revenge.”
Yesterday I wept with millions over the bodies of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad who were murdered by their Arab captors. Today I am choking up with tears over an innocent Arab boy who appears to have been murdered in their revenge.
We have been monitoring previous cases of attacks against Arabs and discovered that no charges were made in either, because the files were “lost.”
We must harness our energies to push the police to find all of the perpetrators and bring them to justice. The same resources that are devoted to find and punish the murderers of Eyal, Naftali, and Gilad should be devoted to finding the murderers of Muhammad Hussein.
I am turning to you today to help us fight a growing wave of racism in Israel. It is our responsibility to stop this ugliness. The pivotal moment has arrived. I am on my way to join thousands at a Tag Meir (Light Tag) demonstration at 5:30pm at Cat Square, right near Ben Yehuda street. I am going to voice my outrage at the futility of these murders, and proclaim that, ” we mourn. We do not avenge.”
?An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” (Mahatma Gandhi).
Action Alert: Send Condolence Letters to the Bereaved Families
The bereaved family of Eyal Fraenkel issued a statement this morning:
“There is no difference between blood and blood. Murder is murder, whatever the nationality and age. There is no justification, no forgiveness and no atonement for any kind of murder.”
In the Deaths of Three Israeli Teens,
Likud Policies Are Also Implicated
Juan Cole / JuanCole.com
ANN ARBOR (July 1, 2014) — The kidnapping and killing of three Israeli squatter youth whose parents usurped Palestinian land has produced a paroxysm of hatred and calls for reprisals in Israel. Whoever is responsible for it, the killing of the youth was a horrid and inexcusable crime, and the heart of any parent goes out to the bereaved families.
It should be noted that during the Israeli dragnet in the West Bank, some 9 Palestinians, some youth or children, have also been killed, and hundreds arbitrarily arrested. The heart of any parent also goes out to those bereaved families.
But assuming that Palestinians were the culprits, the social and political structures fostered by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahuâ€™s Likud Party form an essential context here. Social scientists always contextualize, an anathema to propagandists and the more glib of the journalists, who confuse it with excusing things. To put things in context is not to justify anything, it is to seek and understanding of human actions beyond the simple demonization of the Other.
SABC: â€œUN Concerned about Palestinian Arrestsâ€
The Likud has a policy of keeping the Palestinians stateless. Stateless people lack the right to have rights, in the phrase of Hannah Arendt and the US Chief Justice Warren Burger. They have no state to back their rights, therefore they have no real title to their property, no rights over their land, water or air, nor really even control of their own bodies. In some ways their situation is analogous to that of slaves.
Since the stateless lack a state, they also lack law and order. What most struck me from my last visit to a Palestinian refugee camp was how much of a frontier situation it was. There are no police. Everyone has to fend for themselves. And it is easy for predatory gangs to form.
That is, statelessness produces small violent groups such as Islamic Jihad and perhaps the Palestinian branch of the so-called â€œIslamic Stateâ€ of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It produces them because in the absence of formal state structures, such groups thrive in the interstices of society. And it produces them because statelessness and the consequent deprivation of basic human rights produces potent grievances.
If the Likud really wants an end to such incidents, then it should negotiate in good faith to bring about the kind of Palestinian state that could actually police Palestinian lives. Instead, Mr. Netanyahu, despite public denials, wants to make a Palestinian state forever impossible, because he sees it as a danger to his brand of Iron Wall Zionism, which is aggressive and expansionist and Jewish-supremacist.
Netanyahu did everything he could to torpedo Secretary of State John Kerryâ€™s peace process. One side-effect of statelessness is lawlessness. Netanyahu is actively choosing it.
Likewise, the Likud Party (and its coalition partners, some more barracuda-like than even the Likud itself) is dedicated to a vast project of stealing Palestinian land and resources on the West Bank. They are building beehives of colonies, which are solely Jewish and racist in character, excluding the native Palestinians from dwellings built on their own territory.
The intended end game here of people like Avigdor Lieberman is likely that once a majority of the population in the West Bank is Israeli, an incident like the one that just took place will be used as a pretext to simply chase all the Palestinians out to Jordan or Egypt and then lock them out of their own countryâ€“ i.e. a repeat of what was done in 1948.
It should be fairly obvious that if you take adolescents into the middle of the Palestinian West Bank and steal Palestinian land and build houses on it and shoot at Palestinians trying to harvest their crops nearby and bulldoze down their homes or dig tube wells so deep as to cause the Palestinian wells to run dryâ€“ if you engage in this settler-colonial enterprise, then you are exposing those adolescents you drag with you into it to danger.
It is still wrong. Violence in anything other than direct self-defense is always wrong, and innocent non-combatant life must never be taken. A resistance movement is legitimate, but its quarrel must be with soldiers.
In the way of politics, the killing will be used by the Israeli Right wing to demonize all Palestinians and to justify collective punishment of innocents among them, and as a pretext to take further property and rights away from them.
Mr. Netanyahu seems to think he can use the murders as a basis for a campaign to destroy the Hamas Party-Militia in Gaza altogether. But Hamas is a side effect of Israeli brutalization of Palestinians in Gaza, who live under an economic siege, and if it were destroyed, something worse would take its place. Intolerable situations produce resistance, and resistance movements are often fanatical.
Of course, the Israeli crackdown actions will produce a backlash from Palestinians in turn. The Likud, with its Ku Klux Klan kind of ideology, thrives on such a backlashâ€“ just as the Klan liked to see defiant African-Americans in the days of Jim Crow so as to make it easier to stage a lynching.
The Likudniks, whether in Israel or in the US, seem blithely unaware that they are operating in the same world as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. He didnâ€™t expect suddenly to lose a third of the territory he controlled. While the surprises awaiting the Likudniks arenâ€™t exactly like those that confronted al-Maliki, that there will be unpleasant surprises is fairly predictable. Grasping, indictive and petty policy always produces tragedies for those who pursue it.
Israel Vows to Make Hamas Pay for Alleged Murder of Three Teenagers
Agence France-Presse & The Guardian
(June 30, 2014) — Israel has vowed to make Hamas pay for the murder of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers, but the Islamist movement warned any reprisal attacks would open “the gates of hell”.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday evening the discovery of the three bodies in a field in the southern West Bank.
“This evening, we found three bodies and all the signs indicate that they are the bodies of our three kidnapped youngsters,” Netanyahu told ministers at the start of an emergency session of his security cabinet. “They were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by human animals,” he said. “Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay.”
Hamas, which had denied any involvement in the abduction of the teenage boys, issued a warning in return to the Israelis.
“If the occupiers carry out an escalation or a war, they will open the gates of hell on themselves,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP.
The discovery of the boys’ bodies – one 19-year-old and two aged 16 – came 17 days after they disappeared, triggering a huge manhunt during which five Palestinians were killed and more than 400 arrested.
Two Hebron Hamas men named by Israel as prime suspects — Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Eishe — remain at large but Palestinian witnesses said troops blew up their homes early on Tuesday.
The Israeli roundup — mainly of people linked to Hamas — brought a wave of rocket attacks into southern Israel by militants in the Gaza Strip, answered in turn by Israeli air strikes.
The latest round began in the early hours of Tuesday morning with a rocket landing in the Negev desert region. An army statement said nobody was hurt.
Shortly afterwards the Palestinian interior ministry reported around 30 Israeli air strikes on deserted militant training sites across Gaza but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
In the northern West Bank, Israeli troops shot dead a young Palestinian early Tuesday during a raid into the Jenin refugee camp, Palestinian security and medical officials said.
They named the dead youth as Yusuf Abu Zagher, 18, and said the incident appeared unrelated to Israeli operations in the southern part of the territory.
The Israeli military had no immediate comment.
The youngsters’ bodies were found near the West Bank town of Halhul, some 10 minutes drive from the roadside where they were last seen hitchhiking.
“During the search for Eyal Ifrach, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frankel, the IDF discovered three bodies,” the Israeli army said on Twitter.
Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner refused to comment on the cause of death. He told reporters the bodies were being transferred for formal forensic identification.
One of the civilian volunteers involved in the search told army radio the bodies had been found under a pile of branches and stones in a remote area.
“Today, during a sweep with the army, one of the guys spotted something unusual, they started to move branches and stones and found the bodies,” said volunteer Benny Truper. “It was a very isolated area, more or less at the end of the world.”
US President Barack Obama on Monday condemned the killings and warned against actions that could further “destabilise” the situation, amid the threats of retaliation against Hamas. “The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth,” Obama said in a written statement.
President Mahmud Abbas convened an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership to discuss the latest developments.
Abbas has come under massive Israeli pressure to renounce a reconciliation agreement with Hamas under which a merged administration for the West Bank and Gaza was formed in early June for the first time in seven years.
Israeli Forces Raid, Destroy Palestinian Homes
(June 30, 2014) — According to reports, the Israeli soldiers demolished two homes belonging to the alleged suspects on Monday. The move came after the bodies of the alleged missing Israeli teenagers were found in a field near the village of Hilhul, north of the city of al-Khalil (Hebron).
The Tel Aviv regime claims the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, is responsible for the death of the teens. Hamas said later in the day that if the Tel Aviv regime uses the case as an excuse to act against Palestinians, it will face its repercussions.
Israeli forces have killed several Palestinians and arrested hundreds of others, including Hamas members and lawmakers, as part of the military operations purportedly in search of the three settlers, whom Israel claims went missing in al-Khalil on June 12.
Hamas had earlier denied involvement in the alleged disappearance of the teens.
The resistance movement had said Israel is trying to sabotage the recent reconciliation accord reached between the Palestinian factions of Hamas and Fatah, which led to the formation of the Palestinian national unity government last month.