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Amid carnage, families of the murdered reach out to 'enemy'

    People at a Tel Aviv bus stop duck as a siren sounds
    People at a Tel Aviv bus stop duck as a siren sounds

    The killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16-year-old resident of East Jerusalem found in the Jerusalem forest on Wednesday, was assumed to be a retribution attack for last month's abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers.

    While the murder of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers has unleashed calls for vengeance on both sides, there have also been remarkable gestures of condolence.

    In recent weeks, some young Israelis have posted selfies holding up slogans such as "Israel demands revenge" or "Hating Arabs isn't racism, it's ethics," which received tens of thousands of "likes." On the day of the funeral of the Israeli teenagers, hundreds of young Israelis filled the streets of Jerusalem chanting, "death to Arabs".

    But there have also been many calls for coexistence and mutual sympathy over the loss of young Israeli and Palestinian lives. Rachel Frenkel, mother of Naftali, one of the three murdered Israeli teens, released a statement condemning the "shedding of innocent blood in defiance of all morality, of the Torah, of the foundation of the lives of our boys and of all of us in this country."

    And Suha Abu Khdeir, mother of Muhammad, welcomed the news that six Israelis had confessed to the murder and were under custody, although she doubted that any real justice would come of it.

    Rachel Frenkel
    Rachel Frenkel

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was joined by politicians and the country's chief rabbis in condemning the crime and calling for an end to incitement on both sides. "If Jews are becoming killers, they will be put to court like any killer," said Netanyahu in a press conference in Southern Israel, which had come under increasing rocket fire from Gaza.

    The Abu Khdeir family hosted several Israeli politicians in their mourning tent on Monday, although plans for President Shimon Peres to visit were cancelled after security concerns.

    A large group of 350 Israelis from the Tag Meir coalition - an organisation that opposes the "Price Tag" attacks perpetrated by some settlers against Palestinians - visited the Abu Khdeirs.

    Last week, Tag Meir organised a rally in Jerusalem attended by thousands who, according to the organisation, wanted "to speak out against the ugly violence that has reared its head over the past week in Israel".

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