Mixture of Shame and Shock Grips Israel Over Youth's Murder

Monday, 07 Jul 2014 07:19 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Israel reacted with a combination of shame and shock over the news that six Jews, ranging in age from 16 to 25, were arrested in the murder of an east Jerusalem teenager, Muhammad Abu Khader, in apparent retaliation for the killings of three Jewish teens by Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank, Israeli news media reported.

The country's biggest circulation tabloid, the pro-government Israel Hayom, headlined its coverage, "The Murder and the Shame." The populist Yediot Aharanot ran its main story under the banner "Brutality in Our Midst."

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Dovish Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said, "This is a shock for most Israeli Jews, and I think it's a kind of wake-up call," The Washington Post reported.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telephoned Hussein Abu Khader, the father of the murdered boy, on Monday. Netanyahu said he was outraged by the "reprehensible" killing and promised that the suspects would be prosecuted "to the fullest extent of the law."

Yishai Fraenkel, the uncle of slain Israeli teen Naftali Fraenkel, also called Khader to extend the Fraenkel family's sympathy, the Post reported.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told Israel Radio that the killers should be treated as terrorists. The head of the Orthodox Zionist pro-settler Jewish Home Party, Naftali Bennett, said that the same rules applied to Arab terrorists should be applied to those responsible for Khader's murder.

A leading West Bank rabbi, Elyakim Levanon, head of the Elon Moreh yeshiva, said that if the suspects are found guilty they deserve the death penalty. "The killers who kidnapped and murdered the three [Jewish] boys and the Arab boy must be given mandatory death sentences," he said. "We will thus fulfill the precept of 'You shall remove the evil from your midst,' a Biblical command," Israel National News reported.

Israel Medad, a veteran settler theoretician, blogged that while he was not shocked by the murder, he decried "all violence that is unjustified, extra-legal and, especially, now that the [Jewish] state is established, outside its military/police arms, except in immediate cases of legitimate self-defense."

A liberal Orthodox rabbi, Daniel Landes, called for the homes of the boys to be bulldozed in the left-wing Haaretz newspaper.

"This absolute evil," Shlomo Avineri, a professor emeritus at Hebrew University, told The New York Times. Israeli authorities had failed to sufficiently crack down on fringe elements responsible for retaliatory attacks against Arab property, he said. Now, "a line has been crossed." 

Despite episodic rioting in the murdered boy's middle-class Jerusalem neighborhood, efforts were being made to organize condolence visits by ordinary Israelis to the grieving family, according to Hebrew-language social media.

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