Israeli prison guards lead one of three Israeli defendants
in the murder of Palestinian youth Mohammed Abu Khudair at
Jerusalem's district court. Photo by Reuters
First they removed the baby seat to make room in the car,
and then three Israelis searched for an Arab to kidnap and kill
to avenge the deaths of three Jewish teenagers, according to a
Mohammed Abu Khudair's death stoked Palestinian street
protests in Jerusalem and in Israeli Arab villages, and
served as a trigger for warfare between Israel and
rocket-firing militants in the Gaza Strip now in its 10th
Two weeks after Mohammed, 16, was dragged screaming into a
Honda vehicle outside his East Jerusalem home, his final
minutes were described in graphic detail in a 10-page charge
sheet issued by Israel's Justice Ministry.
The slightly built high school student fought his abductors
in the back seat of the car until one pressed his elbow
against the youth's throat. A second assailant helped push
the arm deeper, choking Mohammed into silence.
"Finish him off," the car's driver urged the two, according
to the indictment.
The teen was still alive, but unconscious, it said, when he
was doused with fuel in a Jerusalem forest and set alight.
His charred body was found hours later, the victim of what
the charge sheet termed "an act of vengeance".
Before striking the match, the driver - the owner of an
eyeglass store in Jerusalem who prosecutors said has a
history of psychiatric problems - kicked Mohammed three
times, according to the indictment.
"This is for Eyal, this is for Gilad, this is for Naftali,"
it quoted him as saying as his foot struck, using the first
names of the three Jewish seminary students whose bodies were
found in the Israeli-occupied West Bank two days earlier.
Israel says Eyal Yifrach, 19, and Gilad Shaer and Naftali
Fraenkel, both 16, were abducted and killed by Islamist Hamas
militants while hitchhiking in the territory. The Islamist
group has neither confirmed or denied involvement.
The defendants in Mohammed's killing - an adult and two
minors - were not named publicly in the charge sheet, which
said a court order against their identification was in
effect. If convicted on murder and kidnapping charges, the
adult could face life imprisonment and the minors a shorter
They appeared in a Jerusalem court to hear the indictment
read but a spokesman for a legal aid society representing
them said pleas would be entered only at a later stage.
Police, who used security camera footage to trace the car,
said the three had confessed and re-enacted the killing for
"Defendant number 1", the store owner, has been taking
medication for mental illness for years and suffers from
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, the charge sheet said. The
website of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, says OCD
symptoms include an inability to control unwanted thoughts
"Defendant 2" is described as a Jewish seminary student. The
third accused had pursued religious studies but later worked
in a toy shop. He, too, the charge sheet said, takes
psychiatric drugs and has OCD.
It was the shop-owner who suggested to one of the accused
minors, on the day after the Israeli youths were found dead,
that they take revenge on an Arab, the prosecution said.
Then the pair hit the road in the middle of the night, some
24 hours before they grabbed Mohammed, and searched for a
victim in Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem.
Near a mosque, they spotted a Palestinian mother pushing a
baby stroller as two of her small sons walked behind. Jumping
out of the car, "Defendant number 2" tried to pull one of the
children in, according to the indictment.
The mother cried out and threw herself at the Israeli who,
the indictment said, had changed from traditional Orthodox
garb to clothes he hoped would disguise his Jewish identity.
He punched the woman in the face and she fell to the ground.
But one of her sons had run off and alerted passersby, who
drew nearer. The assailants fled.
They set off again the next night, this time with "Defendant
number 3" in the Honda, according to the indictment.
After stopping around 2 a.m. for energy drinks, it said, the
three spotted Mohammed, but initially passed him by, deciding
that a nearby Arab hitchhiker would be easier prey. By the
time they circled around, both were gone.
At 3:45 a.m., they again came upon Mohammed, who his family
said was waiting to go to morning prayers with friends.
Thirty minutes later, he was dead, struck twice in the head
with a metal bar and then burned.
After the indictment was read in Jerusalem District Court,
Israel announced it was assigning a special status to the
slain teenager enabling his family to receive government
It designated the Palestinian youth a "victim of terrorism".