J’lem Mayor Unites Grieving Jewish, Arab Families in Conference Call
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, during a conference call on Sunday, tried to assuage the families of both Israeli and Palestinian victims of nationalistic murders that have roiled both societies, and sparked bloody riots in the city, and elsewhere in Israel.
Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frankel, and Eyal Yifrach were murdered by Hamas terrorists, Israel believes, who abducted them from a hitchhiking post in Gush Etzion on June 12. Their bodies were discovered not far away after an intensive 18-day search.
Barkat lauded their families’ “regal and noble” behavior, during condolence calls to Nof Ayalon, Elad, and Talmon, where the three Israelis lived.
The Israel Police on Sunday revealed that it had arrested six Jewish suspects in the abduction and killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir near his home last Wednesday in Jerusalem’s Shuafat neighborhood.
During his condolence call at Nof Ayalon, Barkat spoke with Naftali Frankel’s uncle, Yishai, and, by telephone, with Abu Khdeir’s father, Hussein.
Speaking “in the name of the citizens of Jerusalem,” Barkat expressed to Hussein his shock “over the horrible and barbaric slaying of his son,” a statement from his office said.
Palestinian forensic investigators said they believe the Jewish captors set the 16-year-old youth on fire while he was still alive.
“It is crucial to bring the killers to justice, and return peace to the (Arab youth’s) neighborhood, and to Jerusalem,” Barkat said.
During the visit with the Frankels, the Mayor suggested the two families speak together. The father and uncle tried to comfort each other in their grief.
“As one who has lost a family member, I understand the loss and difficulty, and we want to express our total rejection of violence between the Jewish and Arab peoples,” Yishai Frankel said.
“As soon as we heard about the murder, (our) family asked to put out a statement rejecting all violence and expressions of revenge over the deaths of the teens,” Frankel said, according to the statement.
In Jerusalem, President Shimon Peres issued a statement decrying the mutual violence, and addressed the abduction and murder of Abu Khdeir.
“If a Jew kills they will be put to the court like any other criminal, there is no privilege, the law is equal to all and all are equal before the law. On that there is no compromise. We do not distinguish between blood and blood.”
“The murder of a child is reprehensible, regardless of the religion or nationality of the child. It is our responsibility to secure life and to punish those who take it away from others,” Peres said.
“We must stop the incitement, it’s time to be respectful and to respect the law,” Peres said.
It’s in our hands. We know where words can lead, to more sorrow, to more danger,” Peres said. “It’s time for all of us to show restraint, to show understanding and let us as human beings, all of us, be true to our morality and to our hope of living together in peace.”