A poster of Muhammad Abu Khdeir hangs from the family home in Shuafat where mourners gathered after his burned body was found on July 2..
(photo credit: SETH J. FRANTZMAN)
The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office on Thursday filed an indictment with the Jerusalem District Court against three Jews for the nationalist-revenge murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, the 16-year-old Palestinian from the east Jerusalem village of Shuafat.
Following the indictment, the Defense Ministry recognized Abu Khadir as a victim of hostile action, granting his family identical compensation rights to those of victims of Arab terror, such as victims of suicide bombings (assuming its decision is also adopted by the National Insurance Institute.) The names of the defendants remain under a gag order, but the Supreme Court will decide at 10:30 a.m. on Friday whether to reveal the name of the adult defendant.
The three defendants are a man, 29, from the settlement of Adam, and two teenagers – a 16-year-old from Jerusalem and another from Beit Shemesh.
The three suspects were charged with murder and kidnapping as well as a slew of other crimes.
Earlier Thursday, the Jerusalem District Court ordered the gag order on the grown-up defendant’s name removed, but froze its own order until 6:00 p.m. – allowing the defendant a chance to appeal.
The defendant’s lawyers filed an appeal minutes before 6:00 p.m., leading the Supreme Court to set a final hearing for Friday.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein called the murder a “horrifying act,” but praised law enforcement for the swiftness with which they arrested the three men.
The 16-year-old, Abu Khdeir, was abducted and burned alive on July 2 while waiting to enter a mosque in east Jerusalem. He was allegedly targeted because he was an Arab.
The indictment also included charges against the adult and one of the minors for attempting to kidnap 7.5-year-old Musa Zaloom of Beit Hanina and striking him and his mother who he was walking with (while she was pushing another one of her children in a stroller.) Next, the indictment has separate charges for multiple attempts by the same two to burn Arab cars in Tzur Bahar.
According to the indictment, all three wore non-haredi clothes in order to mask their identities during their attempted kidnappings of Arabs.
The grown-up drove the car, while the minor got out of the car to attack the 7.5-year-old, said the indictment.
The indictment alleged that in the case of Abu Khdeir, the adult again drove the car, while both minors attacked and threw Abu Khdeir into the car.
Abu Khdeir tried to call his uncle, tried to escape and even kicked one of the defendants in the face before they overpowered him, according to the indictment.
The indictment said that Abu Khdeir was partially- strangled and struck on the head by the defendants multiple times as the adult defendant called out names of murdered Jews, such as Shalhevet Pas, the Fogel family, Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel.
Next, according to the indictment, the adult told the minors to burn Abu Khdeir to erase evidence, then they doused him with gasoline and burned him while he was still alive.
Responding to the Defense Ministry’s recognition of Abu Khdeir as the same as a terror victim, Almagor Terror Victims Association director Lt.-Col. (res.) Meir Indor said his organization will fight the decision, even if it means lobbying to have a law changed in the Knesset.
According to Indor, the law to pay benefits to victims of terror was only meant to support “those who were injured or the families of those killed by organizations that are enemies of the State of Israel.”
On Monday, Honenu, a right-wing group representing one of the suspects, said the oldest of the three suspects who had confessed to the murder of the Palestinian teenager may attempt to plead temporary insanity.
The adult and one of the minors are on psychiatric drugs for OCD, said the indictment.
The grown-up has been working at a glasses store in Jerusalem, while the two minors were either studying in a Yeshiva or about to return to studying in Yeshiva.
Following the earlier partial lifting of a gag order on the case, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) released a report saying the three suspects had admitted to kidnapping Abu Khdeir, beating him and burning him alive.
The report said the three unidentified main suspects had confessed that the murder had been an act of revenge following the murders of the three teenagers in June.
Police found the teenager’s badly burned remains at 5:20 a.m., approximately one hour after he was reported kidnapped.
Subsequent news coverage of the slaying led to Arab riots throughout east Jerusalem and the rest of the country.
Yaakov Lappin, Lahav Harkov and Daniel Eisenbud also contributed to this story.