Two days after the bodies of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers were discovered buried in a field in Hebron, the charred body of a Palestinian teen was found in the Jerusalem Forest. Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir had been reported missing from the East Jerusalem town of Beit Hanina several hours earlier.
According to the New York Times, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that authorities “received a report early Wednesday of a teenager being forced into a vehicle in the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina and immediately put up roadblocks to try to locate the vehicle.” The body was discovered soon afterward in the nearby forest, and “Rosenfeld said the police were investigating both criminal and nationalistic motives for the killing.”
The timing of the murder, so soon after the bodies of Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19 were discovered in the West Bank following an expansive 18-day search, has only heightened tensions in the region, as the suggestion that Abu Khdeir’s murder could have been an act of revenge gains traction. JTA reports that Palestinian riots broke out in Beit Hanina and elsewhere in East Jerusalem as news of the murder spread. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said, “Israel bears full responsibility for this incident.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the murder, ordering authorities to “swiftly investigate who was behind the loathsome murder and its motive.” Still, he urged caution in the midst of the increasingly fraught environment, urging civilians “not to take the law into their own hands.”
The uncle of Naftali Fraenkel, one of the murdered Israeli teens, denounced this latest killing. “There is no difference between blood and blood, murder is murder,” he said.
Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.