Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday condemned the murder of an Arab youth in Jerusalem the day before, apparently siding with speculation that he was killed by Jews in a "revenge" attack.
"I appeal to all the citizens of Israel and ask you: please exercise restraint in your actions and words. Our hearts ache, our blood boils, but we must remember that we are, first and foremost, human beings and we are citizens of a law-abiding country," said Netanyahu at a Fourth of July reception at the US Ambassador's residence.
Netanyahu went on to "unequivocally condemn the murder of a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem a few days ago... Murder, riots, incitement, vigilantism - they have no place in our democracy."
The call for restraint and condemnation of vigilantism "in our democracy" might appear to lend credence to claims that Jews murdered Mohammed Abu-Khder (16), claims that have led to massive Arab riots in Jerusalem attacking police and inflicting lasting damage to the capital.
The claims come despite the fact that there is currently no known evidence supporting the "revenge" theory, with the investigation still ongoing.
Netanyahu acknowledged this in his comments Thursday, noting "we still don't know what was the motive of the murder and who did it, but we will bring to justice those responsible for the crime."
In fact, great doubt was cast on the "revenge" theory after a Channel Two report noted Abu-Khder's parents gave conflicting testimony to police over a previous alleged attempted kidnapping of their younger son. Mohammed's mother claimed that "settlers" had attempted to snatch the boy, while the father insisted the assailants were in fact Arabs.
A senior former police official told Arutz Sheva on Wednesday that the Abu-Khder family is known to the police as a "problematic" family with severe internal conflicts, saying "I have no doubt that as time passes it will be clarified that the murder was criminal and nothing more."
Netanyahu's hinted support of the "revenge" theory comes after Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat jumped to condemn the murder on Wednesday morning, calling it "a grave and barbaric act," adding "this is not our way of doing things." His and similar statements have led to widespread condemnation from world leaders, assuming it was an act of Jewish revenge.
The senior official on Wednesday criticized Barkat and the various other MKs for jumping to conclusions, saying they cause serious damage to the image of Israel in the eyes of the world.
"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.