The Israeli daily Haaretz published additional details on Thursday:
Three of the six Jews suspected of being involved in the kidnapping and murder of 16-year-old Shoafat resident Mohammed Abu Khdeir last week will be released from custody today, the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court ruled Wednesday.
The three are not suspected of the murder itself but of being part of the cell that committed it. The police and Shin Bet security service believe the murder was committed by the three main suspects – a 30-year-old man from a community near Jerusalem and two minors from the capital [sic].
An Israeli court today ordered the release of three of the six suspects arrested in connection to last week’s kidnapping, torture and brutal murder of sixteen-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudair, Israel’s Channel 10 reported today.
Meanwhile, scores of Palestinian citizens of Israel swept up in mass arrests remain in detention after protests broke out across the country following Abu Khudair’s killing.
Abu Khudair, from the eastern occupied Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, was abducted outside of his family’s home during the early morning on 2 July and his badly burned body was found in a Jerusalem forest hours later. A preliminary autopsy report indicates that Abu Khudair was burned alive.
Israeli media reported on Sunday that six suspects were arrested; a government official told media that they were “Jewish extremists.” Three of the suspects reportedly confessed to the crime and re-enacted it for investigators.
Following Abu Khudair’s murder, protests erupted across Israel in areas where the Palestinian community, which makes up 20 percent of the state’s population, is concentrated.
Patrick Strickland reported for Al Jazeera English:
“On Sunday night, police clashed with demonstrators in at least 19 Palestinian cities, towns and villages across Israel, mostly in the Galilee and Triangle regions. In Iksal, a Galilee village south of Nazareth, locals burned down a police outpost after clashes on Sunday, while in Nazareth, police clashed with local youth for four consecutive nights.”
Strickland’s report adds:
Arabs 48, an Arabic-language news site covering Palestinians in Israel, reported that overnight Sunday several political leaders were detained: Yousef Nobar, secretary of the Shefa Amr youth assembly, Murad Haddad, a member of Shefa Amr’s local municipality, and Raja’ Eghbariya, a high ranking leader of the Abna al-Balad (“Sons of the Homeland”) political movement.
Writing on his Facebook page on Saturday, hardline Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for “harsh punishment” of Palestinian citizens of Israel, who he claimed “enjoy Israeli citizenship but act like terrorists.”
Some 1.7 million Palestinians carry Israeli citizenship. According to Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, more than 50 discriminatory laws limit their freedom of political expression and access to state resources, including land.
The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) has warned foreign missions and embassies in Israel of its growing concern over the incitement by Israeli leaders against Palestinian citizens of the state.
The group’s intervention “describes how recent statements by Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and a number of other politicians have roused religious and ethnic tensions by promoting an ‘us and them’ mentality, and by calling for broad violent reprisals and even genocide against the Palestinians.”
Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked’s call for genocide of Palestinians, which was published on Facebook a day before Muhammad Abu Khudair’s killing, has received thousands of Facebook “likes,” and advocates “the slaughter of Palestinian mothers who give birth to ‘little snakes,’” as Ali Abunimah reported for The Electronic Intifada on Monday.
The Electronic Intifada has reported on the disturbing phenomenon of racist incitement coming from the top of the Israeli government and spread on social media pages popular amongst Israelis.
A press release issued yesterday by HRA states:
Rather than take practical and meaningful steps to prevent a further escalation of violence, and protect the Arab Palestinian minority from nationalistic hatred, Israel’s political leadership have instead fanned the flames of intolerance and violence.
Director of HRA Mohammad Zeidan further described how “social media has been awash with anti-Palestinian sentiment and calls to arms. These have not proven to be idle threats as Arab Palestinians were set upon by mobs across Israel in attacks targeting their homes, vehicles and property. They have furthermore been subject to demonstrations calling for “death to Arabs” which the Israeli security forces have not only failed to prevent, but have accompanied as they’ve marched through towns and cities.”
The letter emphasised how this incitement and promotion of hatred, will only lead to further violence and hostility, citing examples of how in cities where Jewish and Arab Palestinian Israelis live close together, motorists have been stopped in their cars by mobs who have unleashed violence on those they have identified as being Arab. Zeidan reiterates that “this activity has been allowed to continue largely unabated with what can only be considered to be de-facto support from politicians and the security services.”
The HRA argue that the response of the media to this spiralling situation has proved unsatisfactory. “The coverage of such revenge attacks has been inadequate, unrepresentative and has served to further incite rather than ease tensions. The situation within Israel is fast moving towards a dangerous and explosive state.”
Wave of arrests
The human rights group Adalah announced yesterday that 110 Palestinian citizens from areas throughout present-day Israel remain in detention after the largest wave of arrests since the killing of thirteen unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Israel in October 2000.
Four children aged fifteen to seventeen years old were among those in detention yesterday.
Adalah reported on Tuesday:
As of 12 noon today, 8 July 2014, approximately 110 Palestinian citizens of Israel, including at least 37 children, from various towns and villages in the north, the Triangle, and in the southern Naqab (Negev) remain in detention. Scores of others were arrested and released since 3 July 2014, while new arrests are continuing to be made every few hours. Court hearings took place throughout the day today regarding police requests to extend the detention of individuals, and appeals against the extension of detention and conditions of release.
New arrests were reported in the Palestinian city of Nazareth in present-day Israel today during a protest against Israel’s ongoing deadly airstrikes on the occupied Gaza Strip and the killing of Muhammad Abu Khudair.
Videos by Palestinian journalists in Israel show protests and confrontation with Israeli police in Nazareth over the weekend:
Witness describes teen’s ambush
An eyewitness account of Israeli police’s brutal beating of US teenager Tariq Abukhdeir, cousin of Muhammad Abu Khudair, published by Mondoweiss today contradicts Israel’s claims that the fifteen-year-old attacked Israeli forces prior to his assault and arrest on 3 July.
Tariq Abukhdeir, a high school student from Tampa, Florida visiting Jerusalem during a family holiday, was beaten unconscious by masked police last Thursday in an assault captured on two separate videos.
The boy was held without charge until Sunday, when he was released after his family paid a fine. He remains under house arrest.
In an interview with Mondoweiss’ Alex Kane, eyewitness Leen Barghouti describes how Israeli police disguised as Palestinian civilians ambushed Tariq Abukhdeir in his uncle’s back yard without provocation or warning, severely beating him for several minutes.
In an op-ed published on The Washington Post website today, Tariq Abukhdeir’s cousin Tamara Essayyad describes the daily terror endured by Palestinian families in occupied Jerusalem, where “Arabic graffiti covers the walls warning against Israeli attacks: ‘Beware of child kidnappers.’ ‘Hide your children.’”
“This is Trayvon Martin, en masse,” she writes, referring to the African American teenager whose 2012 murder in Florida, Tariq Abukhudair’s home state, was protested across the United States.
Trayvon Martin’s killer walks free, like the undercover police who beat Tariq Abukhdeir in his uncle’s back yard, after he was acquitted by a jury.