6 Jewish Youths Arrested In Palestinian Teen's Death

The killing sparked violent protests in Jerusalem and Arab Israeli towns throughout Israel — raising fears of another Palestinian uprising. Officials say the autopsy shows the boy was burned alive.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's report on the latest violence in the Middle East. Israeli aircraft struck the Gaza Strip, killing several militants, Israel says, in retaliation for rockets fired into Israel.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

All of this was sparked by the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, followed by the kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teen in an apparent revenge attack. Over the weekend, six Israelis were arrested for that crime. And this morning, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, telephoned the father of the murdered Palestinian boy. Netanyahu promised that the people responsible for his son's death will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

INSKEEP: But that's brought little comfort to his family, as Daniel Estrin report, from Jerusalem.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Driving last night from mostly Jewish West Jerusalem, to mostly Palestinian East Jerusalem, was like entering a war zone. Israeli border police checked each car to make sure no Israel Jews were entering. The street was littered with rocks from last week's riots against Israeli police. Traffic lights were smashed. City train stations were mangled - the pay stations gutted and charred. And at the center of it all, a family was grieving. Hundreds were breaking the Ramadan fast in a large tent set up outside the family's home for well-wishers. Young men passed out sticky-sweet baklava and dates. Posters of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir wearing a baseball cap hung from the mosque next door. Among the mourners was the murdered boy's cousin, Mohammed Khader al-Ouda Abu Khdeir, who recently moved to Jerusalem from California. Only a few hours before, the family heard the news that six Israelis were arrested in connection with the boy's murder.

MOHAMMED ABU KHDEIR: What we want is justice - OK. What we want is justice, but we don't need, you know, revenge killings. 'Cause this - it's not going to solve anything. People don't grow out of that. People just become more hateful and more hateful. And what the hell do we need that for?

ESTRIN: But another family member, Solomon Abu Khdeir, struck a different tone.

SOLOMON ABU KHDEIR: For thousands and thousands and thousands years, the bloods never die here.

ESTRIN: You mean that someone will avenge his death?

SOLOMON ABU KHDEIR: Yes, sir.

ESTRIN: The Abu Khdeirs have a big branch of the family in the U.S. It's something they have in common with the family of Naftali Fraenkel, one of the three Israeli teens kidnapped and killed in the Israeli occupied West Bank. The Israeli teen's uncle phoned the Palestinian family yesterday and offered condolences.

FRAENKEL: (Foreign language spoken) Just give me five minutes from your time.

ESTRIN: In the back of the house, the dead boy's cousins, 15-year-old Tariq, laid in bed with two black eyes and stitches on his lip. He's visiting from Tampa, Florida. He says he was watching riots last week when Israeli forces beat and kicked him.

SUHA ABU KHDEIR: I mean, my son was still grieving his cousin's death, and then this happens to him.

ESTRIN: His mother, Suha, rejected the police claim that he was found with a slingshot. An Israeli court put Tariq under house arrest, and the U.S. State Department called for a quick investigation into quote, "the apparent excessive use of force." She said, on this trip to Jerusalem, she understood what her Palestinian relatives have been experiencing all these years.

SUHA ABU KHDEIR: After actually coming and - and going through it, I don't blame these people for hating - for having so much hate for Israel.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

ESTRIN: A relative drove me back to the mourning tent. On the way, young Palestinian men with their faces masked in checkered headscarves, stopped our car. OK. So we just passed, like, a checkpoint of mass Palestinian youths who were dragging large garbage cans out in the middle of the street, and they were checking the cars looking for undercover police. Minutes later, they began rioting, and police responded with stun grenades. Outside the murdered Palestinian boy's home, his mother, Suha, sat among a throng of women. Her cheeks were red from crying. Earlier in the day, a group of Israeli Jews had come to pay their respects.

SUHA ABU KHDEIR: (Through translator) When Jews came to me today, they brought me a bouquet of flowers. I would have preferred they would have brought me a burned body - one of the six. What good will a bouquet of flowers do? Will it bring back my son?

ESTRIN: She said, this was the beginning of the third intifada - the third Palestinian uprising. The decorative Ramadan lights her son had strung up from the house before he was murdered, were now the lights greeting well-wishers and protesters who chanted, we will honor you with our soul and blood.

UNIDENTIFIED MEN: (Chanting in foreign language).

ESTRIN: For NPR News, I'm Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem.

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