Monday, July 07, 2014

Facing the truth

The Israeli police have released the information that 6 Israeli youths have been arrested for the murder of 16 year old Mohammed Abu Khdeir in East Jerusalem, as a revenge murder for the killing of the three Israeli youths a few weeks earlier.  One of the youths confessed to the crime and acted it out for police and implicated his accomplices.  Notwithstanding incidents of police incompetence and brutality, the police acted with professional competence in this case.  They used surveillance photos of the car used and of the youths talking to Abu Khdeir to make the arrests.  The day before, a group of Israeli youths attempted to abduct a 9 -year old Palestinian boy in E. Jerusalem, but were fought off by neighbors.  Although they reported this to the police, the report was ignored, until the arrested youth described the previous attempt.  These neighbors saw the youths and could have given the police descriptions had they asked.  Incidentally, none of the six right wing Jewish activists who have been arrested for the murder are actually "settlers," they come from good homes in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh. 
The cell phone videos of two border policemen beating up the cousin of the dead youth, Khaled Abu Khdeir, an American citizen, has been widely shown in the media.  It is shocking, and according to PM Netanyahu and other spokesmen for the government, an independent enquiry has been started, not controlled by the police themselves, and any crime will be punished.  It is strictly against all regulations for police to beat a suspect after his hands have been restrained by handcuffs or otherwise.  Such incidents have happened many times in the USA, and even today there was a video of a cop beating a woman who refused to stop, and he punched her in the face when she was on the ground.  None of this is excusable or acceptable.  In the case of Khaled Abu Khdeir he was released by a judge on bail under house arrest.   He and his parents claim he did nothing, not even throw stones.   But, it is certainly dangerous for a youth to be among youths who are throwing stones and petrol bombs.
It is a measure of the democratic institutions of Israel that Israeli youths were arrested for the murder of the Arab youth and the police who carried out the beating will be investigated and charged.  The Israeli Government is under a great deal of pressure at the  moment, there has been widespread rioting in Jerusalem over the murder of the Arab boy (note that there was no such rioting against the Arabs by Jewish Israelis when the three Israeli youths were murdered); there have been copycat riots in other Arabs towns in northern Israel, this time carried out by Israeli Arabs, not Palestinians; there have been over 100 rockets fired on Israel from Gaza in the past few days (several of them intercepted by the Iron Dome system), as well as daily IAF raids against Gaza; and there is the continued search for the murderers of the three Israeli youths.  According to most accounts, PM Netanyahu is handling the situation calmly, as asked by the US and EU to show restraint.  He has shown restraint, but will it earn him any points with them or the media.  In any case, many Israeli citizens would like to see a more active military reaction to stop the Arab riots and the Gaza rockets. 
At the same time, the Arab murderer of 19 year old Shelly Dadon of Afula, who was stabbed to death some months ago in the north, has been arrested and will stand trial for the murder.  He is Hussein Khalifa, a taxi driver from the Galillee.  No one is safe from these murderers.


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