The oldest of the three suspects who confessed to the brutal revenge slaying of a Palestinian teenager, which helped trigger a week of rioting and Israeli- Gazan rocket exchanges, may attempt to plead temporary insanity.
Following the easing of a gag order on the case, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) released a report Monday saying the three suspects admitted to kidnapping, beating and burning Muhammad Abu Khdeir alive.
The report said the three unidentified main suspects – a 29-year-old and two 17-yearolds – confessed that the murder was an act of revenge following the murders of yeshiva students Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel.
The identities of the suspects, remanded by Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court pending a formal indictment, have still not been released.
Meanwhile, it has also been reported that the 29-year-old suspect, facing the gravest allegations, may plead temporary insanity, stemming from ongoing mental illness.
“I expect soon to get the investigative material, in which I will look for support for the assessment that there is a complex problem in the matter of my client’s criminal culpability,” an attorney for Honenu, a right-wing legal aid organization representing the man, said.
According to the report, during the early hours of July 2 the three suspects “patrolled Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem for a number of hours in an attempt to find a victim to abduct, until they spotted Muhammad Abu Khdeir” in Beit Hanina.
At the time of his abduction, the slight 16-year-old was waiting to enter a mosque. The three suspects confirmed they unsuccessfully attempted to kidnap a different victim in the same neighborhood the night before.
The three then forced the teen into their car and drove to the Jerusalem Forest outside the city, where the eldest suspect proceeded to beat him on the head with a tire iron. His two accomplices then helped douse Abu Khdeir in gasoline before they set him on fire, the report stated.
The teenager’s badly burned remains were found by police at 5:20 a.m., approximately one hour after he was reported kidnapped.
Subsequent news coverage of the slaying led to multiple riots throughout east Jerusalem and the rest of the country.
In a further development, according to numerous unconfirmed reports, the main suspect in the investigation attempted to kill his own daughter weeks before murdering the Arab teen, but was stopped by his wife.
Despite the six initial arrests in the case last week, the court found that only the three main suspects were directly involved in the abduction and murder.
Police in Jerusalem set up a special investigation unit in cooperation with the Shin Bet to determine if the murder was criminally or nationalistically motivated. Additionally, two sub-teams were formed to further examine both possibilities.
The intensive investigation included comprehensive examinations of public and private security cameras, forensic testing and the escape route taken by the suspects, the report said.
Although a private camera captured the image of two of the suspects before forcing Abu Khdeir into their car, the vehicle itself was not captured on film, the report stated.
The investigative unit was later able to track the car used in the abduction to the Adam settlement in the West Bank, which led to the arrests of all six original suspects.
A formal indictment is expected to be filed by Friday.
Reuters contributed to this report.