Israeli media are all over the place in guessing who is responsible for the kidnap and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir.
Haaretz pretends to lay out the facts known so far, and reaches its predictable conclusion:
Who was Mohammed Abu Khdeir? Here’s what can be published that hasn’t already been reported. He was 16 and a half, a student in the electricity vocational program at an Amal high school.
His father is an electrician, and he came from a large and well-known family in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shoafat. Earlier this week he helped a relative hang decorative lights on the main street of Shoafat, for Ramadan. At 4 A.M. on Wednesday, he was on his way to the mosque, on foot. Just as fasting and going to synagogue on Yom Kippur says little about a Jew’s degree of religious faith or observance, observing the partial fast and going to the mosque on Ramadan says little about the depth of a Muslim’s faith or religious observance.
Two young men approached Khdeir, very near to the mosque, spoke to him and then persuaded or shoved him into a car driven by a third man. The police have quite a lot of information about the incident.
The car then traveled at great speed in the direction of French Hill, ran a red light and continued to speed toward the Jerusalem Forest. According to Google Maps, when the roads are clear it takes just 12 minutes to drive from the mosque in Shoafat to the place where Abu Khdeir’s body was dumped. The teen’s family notified police immediately, who traced his phone and found his burnt body about an hour later.
All the rest is speculation and guesswork. Israeli right wingers have spread various and sundry rumors about the circumstances of the murder, mainly having to do with “honor killings” or family feuds. Attempts were even made to forge official announcements to this effect, in order to lend them additional credence.
From this writer’s perspective, the police honestly doesn’t know who is responsible and what their motives were. But the process of elimination is increasingly pointing away from criminal motivations and toward nationalistic ones. Palestinian sources say the family is relatively secular and relatively comfortable financially, and that there’s no evidence of disagreements with other families. Anyone familiar with such feuds knows that the attacking side generally targets an important figure from the other side, generally a young man. Killing a 16-year-old boy doesn’t fit that pattern.
In addition, such murders are carried out in broad daylight, on the street, in order to make a statement. Abduction using a vehicle, driving across town and burning the body doesn’t fit the pattern. The police believe that after at least a day of interviewing eyewitnesses, the boy’s parents and other witnesses, if there were a criminal or family-related motive it would have emerged by now.