Kerry condemns alleged revenge murder of Palestinian teen

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the murder of a Palestinian teen from eastern Jerusalem, which is believed to be revenge by extremist Jewish Israelis for the murder of three kidnapped teens.

Kerry in a statement issued Wednesday condemned “in the strongest possible terms the despicable and senseless abduction and murder of Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir. It is sickening to think of an innocent 17-year-old boy snatched off the streets and his life stolen from him and his family. There are no words to convey adequately our condolences to the Palestinian people.”

The body of the teen was found Wednesday morning in the Jerusalem forest hours after he was reported kidnapped from an eastern Jerusalem neighborhood. It was discovered a day after the burial of three Israeli teens kidnapped on June 12 and then murdered by their abductors, who Israel has identified as Hamas terrorists.

“Those who undertake acts of vengeance only destabilize an already explosive and emotional situation,” Kerry said. “We look to both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take all necessary steps to prevent acts of violence and bring their perpetrators to justice. The world has too often learned the hard way that violence only leads to more violence and at this tense and dangerous moment, all parties must do everything in their power to protect the innocent and act with reasonableness and restraint, not recrimination and retribution.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Wednesday morning with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and asked that Israeli law enforcement work as quickly as possible to find out who is responsible for  what he called “the reprehensible murder” and determine the murderer’s motive. He also called on both sides “not to take the law into their own hands.”

Netanyahu’s condemnation came shortly before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on Netanyahu to condemn the killing, as he had condemned the kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli teens, in a statement published on the website of the official Palestinian Wafa news agency.

“Israel bears full responsibility for this incident,” read the statement issued from Abbas’ office. “The Israeli police and security forces must bring those responsible to justice. The Palestinian leadership will continue its discussions following this escalation, including joining international organizations.”