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The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) have joined Israeli political and religious leaders and other international Jewish organisations in expressing outrage and horror at the killing of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir.
Abu Khdeir was kidnapped and murdered on July 2.
It was reported that Israeli police had arrested six Jewish suspects in connection with the murder.
“We commend Israeli authorities for acting swiftly in arresting those charged with participating in this vigilante act and welcome the words of Israeli President Shimon Peres that the harshest action will be taken against the six Israelis suspected of kidnapping and murdering the teenager,” said Wendy Kahn, national director of the SAJBD, and Ben Swartz, vice-chairman of the SAZF, in a press statement.
Peres was quoted as saying: “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.”
He added that the country did not “distinguish between blood and blood... The murder of a child is reprehensible, regardless of the religion or nationality of the child”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned the teenager’s father, Hussein Abu Khdeir, on Monday to express his shock and horror at the murder of his son. “I want to express my shock, and the shock of all Israeli citizens, at the heinous murder of your son,” he said in the call, according to a statement by his office.
“We acted immediately afterward to locate the murderers, and they will be brought to justice,” he added. “We reject all cruel behaviour, and the murder of your son is heinous and cannot be accepted by any human being,” he said.
The SAJBD and the SAZF noted that two Palestinians from the Hebron area visited the Fraenkel family, whose son Naftali was one of three teenagers killed two weeks earlier. In turn, the uncle of Naftali Fraenkel contacted Hussein Abu Khdeir on Sunday to offer his condolences.
Fraenkel said that “we expressed our deep empathy with their sorrow, from one bereaved family to another bereaved family”.
The SAZF and SAJBD said these acts should assist in bringing peace to the troubled region.
“It is our sincere hope that the above acts of courage and forgiveness will shine a light in the region and that all parties will do what it takes to bring peace to a region that will see two secure states, living alongside each other, and that both the Israelis and Palestinians will do what is necessary to bring that about,” their statement read.