Palestinians carry the body of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir during his funeral in Shuafat.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Controversy abounded Tuesday morning following the government’s announcement that slain east Jerusalem Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s name would be enshrined on Mount Herzl’s Victims of Acts of Terrorism Memorial, along with Jewish victims.
Khdeir, 16, was abducted near his home in Shuafat last July and burned alive in the Jerusalem Forest at the hands of three Israeli extremists, who sought revenge for the slaying of three yeshiva students by terrorists in Hebron days earlier.
Yossi Haim Ben-David, 29, and two minors from Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh subsequently confessed to the crime. However, their attorneys claim the three are unfit to stand trial.
Following the announcement that Khdeir’s name would be added during a memorial ceremony on Remembrance Day, his father expressed shock that he and his wife were not consulted beforehand.
“How can anyone do such a thing without consulting the family?” Hussein Abu Khdeir asked in Ma’ariv.
His son’s name also appears on a government website dedicated to civilian victims of terrorist atrocities. The Defense Ministry recognized Abu Khdeir as a victim of “hostile action” in July, approximately two weeks after he was murdered.
However, the father said he has “no interest in receiving recognition from the State of Israel or in receiving National Insurance Institute payments.”
“We want the three individuals who burned Muhammad to death to receive the punishment that they deserve,” he added. “We want justice.”
Meanwhile, although Almagor, an Israeli organization dedicated to families of terrorism victims, condemned Abu Khdeir’s murder as barbaric, it also issued a statement condemning the decision to include his name on the memorial.
“We absolutely condemn the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir,” the statement said.
“The Arab boy was killed by a delusional bunch of men of questionable sanity, and their actions were condemned by society as a whole.”
Nonetheless, Almagor added that the killers are not members of a terrorist organization “that is one of the enemies of Israel,” and therefore their motive was criminal, and not technically terrorism.
Ron Kerman of Haifa, whose son was killed by Arab terrorists, said he was appalled that Abu Khdeir’s name would be inscribed on the monument.
“We are demanding that those responsible for this remove his name,” Kerman told Israel Radio Tuesday morning.
Stating that the three Israelis responsible for the teen’s murder acted alone and are not part of a terrorist organization, he said it is inappropriate for the teen’s name to be included by “those murdered by enemies of Israel.”
Adding more fuel to the fire, 107 bereaved families wrote to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Sunday demanding that a joint Israeli-Palestinian ceremony held for the past decade on Remembrance Day be canceled.
“The ceremony is a provocation which degrades Remembrance Day and the memory of the fallen,” the letter stated.
“We are shocked by the fact that the Israeli government allows a joint memorial ceremony for our enemies who took part in murdering and harming our children … and for our children living in Israel, killed simply for being Jewish.”
The Defense Ministry announced that 116 members of the nation’s fallen were added to the list of fatalities in the past year, including 67 soldiers killed during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
According to the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA), there are at least three Arabs who have been killed by Jews whose names appear on Mount Herzl’s Victims of Acts of Terrorism Memorial. They include Michael Bachut, 55, of Shfaram, who was killed in 2005; Hamis Eyob Tutnaji, 32, of Shuafat, killed in 1985; and Muhammed Abed Rabba, 33, of Sur Bahir in Jerusalem, killed in 2002.