On July 2, three Israeli settlers kidnapped and murdered 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat. Yosef Chaim Ben David, 29, a shopkeeper from the settlement of Adam masterminded the plot. According to a published indictment, Ben David, along with two minors whose identities are protected by a gag order, forced Mohammed Abu Khdeir into a car and beat him with a wrench before forcing him to swallow gasoline. Autopsies found soot in Abu Khdeir’s lungs, indicating that he was burned alive.
Early last month, I met with the Abu Khdeir family in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat. Three months after the murder of the soft-spoken teenager, the Abu Khdeir family awaits justice that will likely never come. Sitting in their mourning tent in front of their home, Hussein Abu Khdeir, Muhammad’s father, told me, “I’m 100% certain we won’t receive justice in this racist court.”
Since the horrific murder of their son, Israel has waged a campaign of intimidation and harassment as punishment for the damage to Israel’s image abroad resulting from international coverage of their son’s brutal murder.
On an almost nightly basis, Israeli police in full riot gear station themselves in vans outside the Abu Khdeir home. They frequently conducts raids, ransacking and kidnapping dozens of young men and boys from their homes, at least 25 of which remain in various jails throughout Israel, according to the family.
Tareq Abu Khdeir, Mohammed’s 15-year-old Palestinian-American cousin, was handcuffed and beaten within inches of his life by Israeli police, rendering his swollen face unrecognizable to his mother. After the beating, Tareq Abu Khdeir was put in Israeli jail and denied proper medical attention. A video of the attack surfaced, pressuring the US State Department to issue a statement on the brutal beating. Upon his release, he was banned from visiting his family’s home in Shuafat. Hours after Tareq Abu Khdeir departed Israel for the United States, Israeli police ransacked the Abu Khdeir home in Shuafat, leaving the family terrified.
The arrest and jailing of American citizen and cousin of the murdered teenager, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 19, went almost unnoticed by media. US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf eventually issued a statement on Israel’s targeting of the Mohammed Abu Khdeir and the family: “We are concerned that the U.S. consulate general in Jerusalem was not notified of his arrest by the government of Israel,” she said. “We are also concerned about the fact that members of the Khdeir family appeared to be singled out for arrest by the Israeli authorities.”
On August 9, I attended a memorial at the Abu Khdeir home that marked the end of the traditional forty day mourning period. As night fell and those who came to pay respect to the family departed, dozens of Israeli police in riot gear attacked the gathering, wantonly throwing stun grenades into crowds of men, women and children. Police shoved mourners and shined laser pointers into the eyes and camera lenses of anyone who filmed the attack, myself included.
Wednesday, I attended the Abu Khdeir trial in Jerusalem and met with Hussein Abu Khdeir in his partially erected mourning tent afterwards. In what he described as a ploy, Hussein told me that the trial had been scheduled to begin at 3pm but the family’s lawyer received a call the previous evening at 5pm, informing that the trial would be moved ahead to 1pm. The last minute schedule change drastically reduced the number of protestors that showed up prior to the trial. “They are playing with us,” Abu Khdeir told me. “They keep messing with us to make us go crazy.
In the last 48 hours Israel has:
1. Annexed another 1,000 acres of West Bank land
2. Seized $55,000,000 dollars of PA tax revenue
3. Broken the ceasefire by firing at fishermen
4. Broken the ceasefire by not opening the border crossing for goods
5. Destroyed a dairy factory in Hebron
6. Destroyed five houses and a farm belonging to Bedouin near Jerusalem
7. Destroyed a family home in Silwan, making 11 children homeless
8. Shot and critically injured a man in Qalqilya
9. Kidnapped 17 people from Jenin
10. Kidnapped 7 people from Nablus