A senior former police official argues that the abduction and murder of the Arab youth who was found dead Wednesday morning was most likely a criminal act, rejecting the claim that Jewish "revenge" for the murdered Israeli teens lay behind it.
The official noted that the family of the murdered 16-year-old was well known to police sources in Jerusalem, adding "it's a problematic family with internal clashes that have been ongoing for many years."
"I have no doubt that as time passes it will be clarified that the murder was criminal and nothing more," declared the official, who spoke to Arutz Sheva on condition of anonymity.
Several Israeli officials jumped to condemn the murder, including Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who called it "a grave and barbaric act," adding "this is not our way of doing things."
The senior official criticized Barkat sharply for jumping to conclusions and condemning the murder "as if the youth was killed by a Jew in response to the murder of the three Jews in Gush Etzion."
When Knesset ministers ascribe the murder as being a "price tag" act, there is serious damage to the image of Israel in the eyes of the world, argued the official.
"As a veteran resident of Jerusalem, I'm surprised that the mayor rushed to put out condemnations without clarifying all of the facts. I know the internal conflicts in that family, and we need to wait and not rush to connect the murder of the Arab youth with the abduction in Gush Etzion," added the official.
During the ensuing riots in Beit Hanina and Shuafat since the announcement of the murder, several Arab residents reportedly attacked a young local Arab, possibly indicating the internal clashes the source spoke of. Police forces rescued the youth, who did not require medical treatment. The rioters were dispersed by the police force and the assaulted youth left the area.
Jumping to conclusions
Nevertheless, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh lost no time pointing the finger at Israel as being behind the murder, blaming the state for it and demanding that Israel "expose the criminals and bring them to justice."
Abbas demanded that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "condemn the abduction of the Arab youth and his murder, like we condemned the abduction and murder of the three settlers."
Abbas's Fatah movement likewise on Wednesday blamed Israel for "the cold blooded abduction and murder of the Arab youth by settlers."
Fatah went on to condemn the murder as a "war crime and organized crime," adding it was "a direct result of the continued incitement by the right-wing occupation (Israeli) government and its complete support for settler terror."
For his part, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich on Wednesday, urging the that the investigation be advanced speedily.
Netanyahu called on all sides "not to take the law into their own hands."
Riotous reaction to the murder
Quoting eye witnesses, IDF Radio said a black car had stopped by an Arab youth in Jerusalem's Beit Hanina who was hitchhiking and he was forced inside. The car then took off. Some time later, the family of the youth reported him missing, it said.
The burnt body of an Arab youth was later found in the Jerusalem Forest area. Police have not formally confirmed the body is that of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khder who was kidnapped, reports AFP.
Wild rumors and speculation have abounded that the youth was possibly was murdered by Jews as a possible act of revenge after the kidnapping murder of three Jewish teens. However, as the official revealed, reports indicate that the abduction likely was carried out by Arabs and that the murder was an "honor killing" or another kind of criminal murder.
Large police forces are combing the area where the body was discovered and hundreds of Arabs from Shuafat are currently rioting. The road between Beit Hanina and Pisgat Ze'ev has been blocked to traffic. In addition, operation of the Light Rail to Beit Hanina and Shuafat has been suspended, due to concern that rioting Arabs may attack the railway and its passengers.
The Arab rioting in Shuafat spread to the Temple Mount on Wednesday, where masked Arab rioters threw rocks at police. This led to the decision to close the Mount to visitors. The entrance into Jerusalem from Highway 443 at the Ben Tzion Interchange was also closed off.
Three Light Rail stations were destroyed by rioters. Arab pogromists were also reportedly targeting Jewish homes and cars in Pisgat Ze'ev.
Later, it was reported that Arab rioters hurled three pipe bombs at police forces. Only one of these appears to have exploded, and police sappers are neutralizing those that did not. No police were reported hurt by the bombs, although a man was hospitalized from the blast.
The rioting was reported as continuing strong into the afternoon, with rioters throwing stones, molotov cocktails and another pipe bomb, as police blocked entry to Beit Hanina.