Three Israeli suspects who have confessed to the gruesome killing of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was abducted in East Jerusalem and later burnt to death, are going to plead “temporary insanity”, according to Haaretz. Mohammed’s father guessed as much last week, when asked whether he trusted Israel’s judicial system: “I think they will say that [the murderers] were insane and give them a year or two and that’s all.”
That’s not because Hussein Abu Khdeir has incredible prescience; it’s because this is how it works in Israel. Palestinians who kill Israelis are terrorists, and Israelis who kill Palestinians are either heroes, if they are doing it in an official capacity, or deeply damaged individuals on the “fringes of society”, if they act on their own. Either way, they are not meaningfully held to account.
As Hussein also implies, the three, if convicted, will probably get a lenient sentence and then pardoned when the fuss dies down in a year or two.
Notice also that the three other suspects arrested last week have been released, even though the police say they were part of the cell believed to have organised the kidnapping. So why not charge them with conspiracy to murder, or membership of a terrorist organisation, or one of the other charges that would be used if the suspects were Palestinian, including Palestinian citizens of Israel?
And here’s another question: how can we take seriously a claim of “temporary insanity” among an organised group (“a cell”) that has a wider membership and whose creation presumably predated the general mood of revenge that permeated Israeli society following news that three Israeli teens had been abducted on June 12? What was this cell organised to do if not to harm Palestinians? And if this is the case, how can “insanity” apply to the group collectively and how can it be termed “temporary”?
I expect none of these questions to be addressed, let alone answered, in the trial – assuming, of course, we get one and this is not hushed up in a closed hearing at which they are committed to psychiatric care.
Instead, Israeli officials will doubtless assent to the deranged notion of “insanity” propagated by the far-right legal group, Honenu, defending the three suspects. It says:
Given the crazy, abnormal situation in the country, it’s natural that among the many people who approach us, some have been emotionally scarred by the security situation or by difficult personal circumstances and responded accordingly.
Remember, “accordingly” here refers to a decision to abduct a child, force-feed him a flammable liquid and then set him on fire. Maybe “insanity” in this case has a much wider application than just to three individuals.
Below is the full story in Haaretz.
In Israeli court, suspects in Mohammed Abu Khdeir killing to plead insanity
The two minors who have confessed to involvement in the killing ‘aren’t functioning individuals,’ a source says.
By Nir Hasson | Jul. 14, 2014 | 2:15 AM
The three main suspects in the kidnapping and murder of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir two weeks ago will probably claim temporary insanity, associates of the three said Sunday.
The three males, who have already confessed, are a 30-year-old man from a community near Jerusalem and two minors, one from Jerusalem and one from nearby Beit Shemesh. They are to be brought before the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court Monday morning to have their detention extended.
“They live at the fringe of society and aren’t functioning individuals,” said a source close to both minors.
Also on Monday, the police are expected to declare their intent to prosecute the three and ask that their detention be extended until Friday to allow for preparation of an indictment. On Friday, the police are expected to request that the three be held in custody until the end of legal proceedings.
Police believe the kidnapping and murder of Abu Khdeir was committed to avenge the kidnapping-murder of three Jewish teens whose bodies had been buried only hours earlier.
Asked last week whether he had faith in Israel’s judicial system, Mohammed’s father Hussein Abu Khdeir told Haaretz: “I don’t trust them. Not in the least. I am afraid. I am really afraid. I think they will say that [the murderers] were insane and give them a year or two and that’s all.”
The three suspects have reenacted the kidnapping and murder; they were in the car when Abu Khdeir was snatched, assaulted, taken to the Jerusalem Forest and burned. An autopsy showed that although Abu Khdeir had been struck on the head, he was still alive when set on fire.
Three other suspects were released last week after it was determined that they were not involved in the killing, although they were allegedly part of the cell that was responsible for it. Their attorneys from the group Honenu said there was no evidence linking them to the murder and complained that they had been held for days without being allowed to see a lawyer.
According to its website, Honenu defends civilians and soldiers “who find themselves in legal entanglements due to defending themselves against Arab aggression, or due to their love for Israel.” The group said that defending these suspects was in keeping with its mission.
“Given the crazy, abnormal situation in the country, it’s natural that among the many people who approach us, some have been emotionally scarred by the security situation or by difficult personal circumstances and responded accordingly,” Honenu chief Shmuel Medad told the newspaper Besheva. “Apparently this is such a case.”
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem light rail ran its full route Sunday for the first time since rioters in Jerusalem’s Shoafat neighborhood destroyed stations and equipment after Abu Khdeir’s body had been found. As a result, the company CityPass, which operates the system, stopped service through Shoafat, leaving the large Jewish neighborhood Pisgat Ze’ev at the end of the route cut off.
On Sunday, police and security guards rode on light-rail trains as they passed through Arab neighborhoods.