Alleged Khdeir Killers Drove Around Searching For A Victim, Israeli Investigators Say

 m.kreiter@ibtimes.com
on July 14 2014 10:56 PM

Israeli investigators Monday released details of their investigation into the killing of Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who was burned to death in apparent retaliation for the kidnap-killings of three Israeli teenagers -- Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel.

The three Israeli suspects -- a 29-year-old man and two youths about 17 -- confessed to the killing, which touched off riots and led to a new round of hostilities between Hamas and Israel that has seen scores of Palestinian deaths as a result of Israeli airstrikes launched in retaliation for hundreds of rockets fired into Israeli territory from Gaza.

A gag order that had prevented release of the details of the case was lifted Monday.

The New York Times reports the three drove around the West Bank for hours July 2 before spotting their victim about 3:48 a.m. standing outside a mosque near his home in Shuafat and shoved him into their car, driving him to a forest area where he was beaten before being set afire. Khdeir had been waiting for morning prayers.

Khdeir's remains were found by police about an hour after he was kidnapped, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Rachel Fraenkel, Naftali's mother, called Khdeir's killing an "outrage."

"The shedding of innocent blood [is] in defiance of all morality, of the Torah, of the foundation of the lives of our boys and of all of us in this country,” she said, the Times reported. Her sentiments were echoed by other Israelis who reject extremism. A group built a makeshift stone monument at the site of Khdeir's death. The monument was defaced, built again and defaced again, the Times said.

The Israeli security service Shin Bet said the three suspects confessed and it is investigating whether the two of the three tried to abduct an 8-year-old Palestinian the night before. The boy's mother drove the would-be abductors away, The Times of Israel reported.

Khdeir's kidnapping was caught on security cameras and investigator Eli Cohen told Army Radio the vehicle used in the crime -- a Hyundai -- was found parked at the oldest suspect's home. Shin Bet said the suspects tried to destroy evidence before they were arrested, including burning the clothing they wore the night of the killing. Initially seven people were arrested but three were released because they had no connection to the killing and a fourth said he was aware of what happened only after the fact.

The Times of Israel reported Khdeir was hit with a tire iron before he was burned alive. Though the names of the suspects have not been released, Shin Bet said the adult suspect is from the West Bank settlement of Adam while the youths are from Jerusalem. The Petah Tikvah District Court said it was keeping the names secret to prevent another round of retaliation.

The suspects obtained handcuffs, gasoline and other supplies in advance, indicating the killing was premeditated, Shin Bet said.

Reports also indicate the adult suspect once tried to strangle his infant daughter but was foiled by his wife. He later successfully pleaded temporary insanity, the Times of Israel said. The Post said he was expected to try an insanity plea again.

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