A Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and murdered in Jerusalem early this morning in what looks to be a reprisal for similar killings this week of three Israeli teens in the West Bank. Seventeen-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudair was forced into a car as he waited for morning prayers and a pre-dawn meal around 3:45 a.m. this morning, his friends said. They called the police immediately and Khudair's family later reported him missing when he did not come home in the morning. Police road blocks were not able to find Khudair alive. His burned body was found dead in a wooded area west of Jerusalem later on Wednesday.
Though the motive for the killing is still unknown and Israeli officials have denied links to the dead West Bank teenagers, Palestinian officials are suggesting it was revenge. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “condemn the kidnapping and killing … as we condemned the kidnapping and killing” of the Israeli teens. So far Netanyahu has only called for calm as “investigators act as quickly as possible to find out who stands behind the despicable murder.”
That call has not been heeded. After Khudair's body was discovered, Israeli security forces were dispatched to his neighborhood. Clashes in the street quickly followed, with local Palestinians throwing rocks and burning dumpsters as security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades. This clash comes only hours after right-wing Israeli protestors took to the streets to call for revenge on Tuesday night. Those protests turned violent when Jewish teenagers began attacking random Palestinians in downtown Jerusalem.
Among those calling for calm is a family member of one of the three dead Israeli teens. “If indeed an Arab youth has been murdered for nationalistic motive, this is a horrifying, shocking act. There is no difference in blood,” Yishai Fraenkel said in a statement. “Murder is murder, whatever one’s nationality or age. There is no justification, no forgiveness and no atonement for any murder whatsoever.”