palestinian collaborator 248 88.
(photo credit: AP)
Relatives of the 15-year-old Palestinian boy who was murdered by members of his family last week on suspicion of "collaboration" with Israel have called on the Palestinian Authority to impose the death penalty on the culprits.
The boy, Raed Sawalha, from the village of Hijjah in the Kalkilya district, was brutally tortured before being hanged. His body was discovered on Wednesday in a warehouse belonging to his family.
His father, Wael, had locked him inside the warehouse after villagers claimed that they had seen the boy "chatting" with a Border Police soldier.
The father told police that he only sought to "discipline" his son and did not know that other members of the family, including his own brother, would assault him and kill him.
Sawalha's grandfather, Mufid, strongly denied that the boy had any connection with the Israeli authorities, saying the whole affair was the result of a "misunderstanding."
Mufid said that he and the boy's father did not know that the case would result in the gruesome murder, which has shocked many Palestinians in the village and elsewhere.
"My grandson was a decent boy," he said. "He did not have any connections with the Israelis." The grandfather said that one of the boy's uncles beat him to death before hanging him.
"He was a good boy, an innocent boy," he said. "He used to help me and his father a lot in the fields. The same day he was murdered he had worked with me in the fields."
The boy's father has, meanwhile, been released from detention. Police sources said there wasn't sufficient evidence to suggest that he was an accomplice.
The sources said that the uncle has confessed to the murder. He told police investigators that he "lost his temper" when some boys in the village told him that his nephew had waved to a Border Police soldier as he drove by.
The father, who works as a taxi driver, told reporters that his son's alleged gesture triggered rumors in the village that his son was "working for Mishmar Hagvul [Border Police].
The father was quoted by the Maan News Agency as admitting that he had given his brother [the suspect] the key after locking his son inside the warehouse.
"I didn't know that he was going to torture him and hang him," he said. "My son was actually beaten to death by his uncle despite his innocence." The father said that the rumors had been sparked by "ignorant" villagers.
Village residents expressed shock over the murder and said they believed that the motive was different than that given by the suspect.
"It's hard to believe this story," said Imad Sawalha, a distant relative. "We believe there's another motive behind this murder. How can a 15-year-old boy be a ameel [collaborator] with Israel?" He and several villagers called on the PA to impose the death sentence on those responsible for the boy's violent death.
"May God have mercy on us," said Palestinian commentator Muwafa Matar. "He was just a boy. The hand that tied the rope around the innocent boy's neck can't be that of a human being. Have our morals and values descended to such a level?"
Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the PA security forces in the West Bank, said that a number of the victim's relatives have also been arrested on suspicion of aiding the main suspect.