The 2nd of July 2018 is four years to the day since the kidnapping and murder of Mohammed Abu
Khdeir, a 16 year old Palestinian boy from Shu’fat in East Jerusalem. The shocking nature of his
murder and its context, occurring only 6 days before Israeli bombing campaigns in Gaza, make it a
painful memory for Palestinians.
Mohammed was waiting for friends to eat the pre-dawn meal in Ramadan and was outside his home
at 3.45 in the morning. He was dragged into a car by two or three settlers. He screamed “father, save
me!”. The four settlers who took part (two of whom were minors) then proceeded to beat
Mohammed, covered him in petrol and set him on fire while he was still alive. The autopsy confirmed he had inhaled the burning material confirming he was still alive when he was set on fire and that he suffered internal as well as external burns covering 90% of his body.
While many in the Israeli government expressed condolences the violence against the boy’s family
was not yet at an end. His cousin Tariq, a US citizen, was beaten and arrested by police in east
Jerusalem only a few days later. He recalled “they hit me, and they kept hitting me and then I fell
asleep and then I woke up in the hospital.” The police said there he had been involved in violence
but journalists noted that there was no mention of this accusation at the court hearing. He was 15 at
While the killers were eventually sentenced (although the minors may be released in under 15 years)
the horrific incident must not be viewed as an isolated outbreak. Instead it should be located within
a collection of sentiments coming from the settler community, the military, the media and the
government of Israel. The inevitable result is terrorism against Palestinians. From Mohammed’s killer
Ben-David to the settlers who spat at the Abu Khdeir family when they arrived in court, to even the
Israeli government, the Palestinians and their children are “little snakes” and “Wild Beasts” and
legitimate targets for violence. At 16 Mohammed Abu Khdeir was training to be an electrician.