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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA

‘Several Jewish suspects’ arrested in murder of Palestinian teen

JERUSALEM (JTA)—”Several Jewish suspects” have been arrested in connection with the murder of a Palestinian teen, Israel’s Shin Bet security service said.

The arrests in the July 2 abduction and murder of Muhammad Abu Khieder in eastern Jerusalem came Sunday morning, according to a Shin Bet statement.

The suspects  are being questioned, according to the statement, which added, “All other details regarding the investigation are under a judicial gag order.”

One of the suspects confessed and implicated other suspects, who also confessed under Shin Bet interrogation, the Israeli media reported.

Khieder was buried last Friday afternoon following Ramadan prayers. He was burned alive, Palestinian Authority Attorney General Mohammed Al-A’wewy told the official Palestinian Wafa news agency, in an attack that took place hours after the burial of three kidnapped Israeli teens whose bodies were found in a shallow grave in a field near Hebron.

“This was a shocking and unacceptable act which any sane person, certainly in a strong and democratic country such as the State of Israel, must strongly condemn,” Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said.

On Saturday, Israeli soldiers arrested a third man, Husam Dofsh, believed to be connected to the June 12 kidnapping and murder of the Israelis. Dofsh, who was missing from his Hebron home since the abduction, is suspected of assisting the killers of Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19.

Two West Bank Palestinians affiliated with Hamas, Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme, had been identified previously by the Shin Bet and the Israeli military as the alleged abductors of the teens. The suspects, who live in Hebron, have been missing since the Israeli teens were kidnapped.

Netanyahu: Murderers of Palestinian teen to face ‘full weight of law’

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged following arrests in the murder of a Palestinian teen that the killers “will face the full weight of the law.”

Israel’s Shin Bet security service announced Sunday that it had arrested “several Jewish suspects” in the kidnap and murder of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khieder, whose body was found July 2 in the Jerusalem forest.

Sending his condolences to the victim’s family, Netanyahu said, “I pledge that the perpetrators of this horrific crime, which must be resolutely condemned in the most forceful language, I pledge that the perpetrators of this horrific crime will face the full weight of the law. I know that in our society, the society of Israel, there is no place for such murderers.

“And that’s the difference between us and our neighbors. They consider murderers to be heroes. They name public squares after them. We don’t. We condemn them and we put them on trial and we’ll put them in prison,” he said. “We do not differentiate between the terrorists and we will respond to all of them, wherever they come from, with a firm hand.”

Netanyahu made his remarks in Nof Ayalon, where he paid a condolence call to the family of Naftali Frenkel, one of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers found dead last week after an 18-day search.

Netanyahu also pledged to capture the murderers of Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, who have been identified by Israeli security services.

“The Palestinian Authority is obliged to do everything in its power to find them, just as we did, just as our security forces located the suspects in the murder of Mohammed Abu Khieder within a matter of days,” he said.

One of the suspects arrested in connection with Kieder’s murder had confessed and implicated other suspects, who also confessed under Shin Bet interrogation, the Israeli media reported.

U.S. teen accused of rioting in E. Jerusalem released on bail

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The American teenager who reportedly was shown in a video being beaten by Israeli police during rioting in eastern Jerusalem was released on bail.

Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, of Tampa, Fla.—a cousin of the Palestinian teen found murdered in the Jerusalem forest—was released Sunday after being arrested for rioting in the Shuafat neighborhood and ordered not to return there.

The murdered teen, Muhammed Abu Khieder, was buried last Friday in Shuafat, which has seen rioting throughout the weekend.

Khdeir, who was visiting family in eastern Jerusalem, was arrested during riots following the discovery of Khieder’s body on July 2. Khdeir reportedly was shown in a video of the incident being beaten on the head and face. In the video, Khdeir’s face, like other teens throwing rocks and firebombs at Israeli security forces, is covered with a mask, making identification impossible.

He was one of six teens arrested at the riot. Three of the teens were carrying knives, Israel Police told reporters.

Israel Police on Saturday launched an investigation into the police actions shown on the video.

The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem visited Khdeir, who was born in the United States and is a U.S. citizen, in jail on Saturday.

“We are profoundly troubled by reports that [Khdeir] was severely beaten while in police custody and strongly condemn any excessive use of force,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement released Saturday. “We are calling for a speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force.

“We reiterate our grave concern about the increasing violent incidents, and call on all sides to take steps to restore calm and prevent harm to innocents.”

Netanyahu talks tough against Israeli-Arab rioters

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Arab community leaders in Israel to help restore quiet amid rioting by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.

The violence and rioting over the weekend in eastern Jerusalem and throughout the Galilee followed last Friday’s burial of a Palestinian teen who was found burned to death two days earlier in the Jerusalem forest.

Israeli police used rubber bullets and tear gas to quell the rioting at several sites in Jerusalem as well as in several towns in the Wadi Ara region of northern Israel, home to a large Arab-Israeli population.

“We are taking a tough line against anyone who breaks the law and against inciters from whatever side,” Netanyahu said Sunday morning at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “There is no place in the State of Israel for stone-throwing at police, throwing firebombs, blocking roads or destroying property, or incitement against the very existence of the State of Israel.

“This rope cannot be held from both ends. One cannot benefit from National Insurance payments and child allowances on the one hand and, on the other, violate the most basic laws of the State of Israel. I call on the leaders of the Arab public to show responsibility and come out against the wave of disturbances in order to restore quiet. Whoever does not abide by the law will be arrested and punished severely.”

Palestinian Authority Attorney General Mohammed Al-A’wewy told the official Palestinian Wafa news agency that the Palestinian teen, Muhammed Abu Khieder, was burned alive in the early morning attack on July 2, hours after the burial of three kidnapped Israeli teens whose bodies were found in a shallow grave in a field near Hebron. Khieder had been abducted from his eastern Jerusalem neighborhood.

Israel’s Shin Bet security service said Sunday that it arrested and was questioning “several Jewish suspects” in the killing, which police say may have been a reprisal by Jewish extremists for the June 12 abduction and murders of three Israeli youths in the West Bank.

Tel Aviv fines grocery stores for staying open on Shabbat

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Many Tel Aviv grocery stores stayed open on the Sabbath even though Israel’s interior minister rejected an amendment to a municipal statute that would have allowed their opening.

Municipal inspectors handed out fines on Saturday of slightly more than $200 to the businesses that remained open despite an Israeli law that makes it illegal to open retail businesses on the Jewish Sabbath, which begins at sundown Friday and ends after sunset Saturday.

Employees at the large Tiv Tam grocery store  wore T- shirts with the slogan “Tel Aviv does not keep Shabbat” while they worked on Saturday.

Israeli Interior Minister Gideon Saar late last month rejected the amendment that would have allowed some stores to stay open on the Sabbath and holidays.

Israeli father who admitted killing his American children is indicted

JERUSALEM (JTA)—An Israeli father who admitted to killing his two American-Israeli children was indicted.

Israeli prosecutors filed the indictment against Avraham Levy on Sunday, the Times of Israel reported. Levy said he killed his children to take revenge on his wife for divorcing him.

Sarah and Yishai Levy, aged 14 and 10, were stabbed to death last month in their father’s home in the Yashresh moshav in central Israel, about three miles south of Ramle. Levy contacted police after the murder to tell them what he had done.

The children were dual American-Israeli citizens and had just arrived in Israel from Columbus, Ohio, where they lived with their mother, Karen, who is also a dual citizen. Under the reported terms of the couple’s 3-year-old divorce agreement, the children must visit their father in Israel twice a year.

The children were buried last month in Columbus.

Karen Levy had previously filed domestic violence complaints against her then-husband. She resided in a women’s shelter for victims of domestic violence during the divorce proceedings.

Arab-Israeli cabbie confesses to killing Jewish woman, 20

JERUSALEM (JTA)—An Arab-Israeli taxi driver has confessed to murdering a young Jewish woman in northern Israel two months ago.

Hussein Yousef Hussein Khalifa, 34, of the village of Iblin in the Galilee, confessed to the May 1 slaying of Shelly Dadon during questioning by the Shin Bet, the security service said in a statement issued Sunday.

The statement said Khalifa, who was arrested June 16, disclosed many details regarding the murder in Migdal Haemek and that the killing was committed “for nationalistic reasons.”

Dadon, 20, had left her home in Afula on the day of the murder for a job interview in nearby Migdal Haemek and was found dead in that city’s industrial zone.

Khalifa, who drove workers to and from factories in the industrial zone, took Dadon to an abandoned parking lot on its outskirts and stabbed her to death before fleeing in his cab, according to the Shin Bet.

The body showed “severe signs of violence,” Moshe Cohen, commander of the police’s northern regional division, said at the time of its discovery.

Indyk: Settlements pushed Palestinians to end talks

(JTA)—Martin Indyk, the former chief U.S. envoy for Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, said Israeli settlement activity caused the Palestinians to walk away from negotiations.

Indyk, who quit his post as peace envoy last week after the breakdown of talks, made his remarks in an interview published July 3 by The Atlantic.

“The Israeli attitude is that’s just planning,” Indyk said in reference to announcements of construction plans in settlements and in eastern Jerusalem that Israel made during talks. “But for the Palestinians, everything that gets planned gets built.”

Indyk said the announcements, which coincided with Israel’s agreed-upon release of more than 100 Palestinian prisoners in several installments, undermined Abbas’ standing.

“The fact that the announcements were made when the prisoners were released created the impression that Abu Mazen had paid for the prisoners by accepting these settlement announcements,” Indyk said, using Abbas’ nickname. As a result, Abbas suddenly “shut down,” Indyk said.

By the time Abbas visited Washington in March, he “had checked out of the negotiations,” repeatedly telling U.S. officials that he would “study” their proposals, Indyk added.

Indyk also said Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deeply disliked one another.

“There is a deep loathing of each leader for the other that has built up over the years,” Indyk said.

He later clarified, saying, “Loathing may be too strong for how Netanyahu feels about Abu Mazen. But it’s certainly the way Abu Mazen feels about Netanyahu. He refers to him as ‘that man.’ “

Jewish U.C. regent-designate claims accusations stem from pro-Israel stance

(JTA)—A Jewish UCLA student nominated to serve as a regent for the statewide University of California system alleged that a conflict-of-interest probe against him is “an attack against me as a pro-Israel student.”

Avi Oved released a statement before a July 1 emergency meeting via teleconference of the University of California Student Association, or UCSA, looking into allegations against him during his run for the UCLA student government.

Amal Ali, a former president of Students for Justice in Palestine at U.C. Riverside, had alleged at a UCSA board meeting on June 28 that Oved failed to disclose the campaign donation from pro-Israel philanthropist Adam Milstein, The Daily Californian, U.C. Berkeley’s student newspaper, reported.

In his statement Oved, who did not appear at the July 1 meeting, called the accusations “hurtful and deeply unfair” and questioned why he was being criticized for “failing to provide information not required” by the UCLA student government’s election code, adding that “no similar demand has been made of any other candidate.”

Milstein has denied making a donation during the 2013 election from his Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, pointing to the foundation’s 2012-13 tax return.

The campus election code does not require disclosure of campaign funding sources.

“As a proud pro­-Israel advocate, I have never wavered on my political beliefs on respective issues nor diluted my stances to appease those who had differing opinions,” Oved wrote. “I would hope everyone would respect me and my point of view just as I respect and welcome those that differ from my own.”

The UCSA tabled any decisions until it hears directly from Oved, according to the Jewish Journal. Its Systemwide Affairs Committee agreed to meet in a closed session July 3 to further discuss the allegations.

The U.C. Board of Regents is scheduled to vote to confirm Oved’s nomination during its July meeting at U.C. San Francisco.

As a regent, Oved would join Sadia Saifuddin, the first Muslim student representative on the University of California’s Board of Regents, which governs the public university system. Saifuddin’s appointment also met with controversy for her support for divestment from companies that do business with Israel in the West Bank.

World Bnei Akiva leaders to meet on secretary-general’s possible ouster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The leaders of World Bnei Akiva said they will hold an emergency meeting on whether or not to remove the movement’s secretary general following his call for avenging the murder of three Israeli teens with blood.

The governing body of the worldwide religious Zionist youth movement will hold the meeting in Israel within the next two weeks on the future of Rabbi Noam Perel, Haaretz reported Sunday. Perel apologized for his inflammatory statements for the second time on Sunday.

“The call for the Israeli government to look after the lives of our children must not be confused in any way with any suggestion of revenge, words which should not be used by any person, and certainly not educators and leaders,” Perel said in a statement, according to Haaretz. “I cannot express to you how badly this error has caused me to feel, and especially its unintended consequences.”

Bnei Akiva, which has approximately 30,000 members, operates separately from Bnei Akiva of Israel.

Perel deleted and had apologized earlier for his Facebook post, in which he wrote, “The travesty will be atoned for with the enemy’s blood, not with our tears. A whole nation and thousands of years of history demands revenge. The government of Israel is convened for a meeting of vengeance that is not a mourning sitting. Leaders have gone crazy at the sight of the bodies of our sons, a government that would make the army of searchers into an army of avengers.”

The post came hours after the bodies of the three Israelis were discovered in a field north of Hebron, 18 days after they were reported missing. Following the teens’ funerals, a Palestinian teen was kidnapped and murdered in what is likely a revenge killing.

Norway’s Jewish community has called for Perel’s ouster.


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