- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 6, 2014

Israeli officials vowed to prosecute six suspects arrested Sunday and accused of killing a Palestinian youth in what has been viewed as revenge for last week’s murder of three Jewish teenagers.

But some U.S. lawmakers doubted the Arab side would follow their lead with a crackdown of their own.

The burning death of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian, set off days of violent protests in Arab areas of Jerusalem and northern Israel, prompting calls to root out those responsible.

“I would hope, and I would expect, that the Palestinians will do the same thing, but that remains to be seen,” Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr., Pennsylvania Democrat, told “Fox News Sunday.” “But we’re heartened by the news that at least arrests have been made, and the justice system is proceeding.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said the U.S. should “try to engage and get the parties back into their corners.”

“But one thing about Israel [is] they’ll try to investigate, I think, and bring somebody to justice,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “The other side’s not very good at that.”

Mohammed was abducted last week, his charred body found a short while later in a Jerusalem forest in what Palestinians say was a revenge killing for the earlier deaths of the Israeli teens.

On the day the Israeli teenagers were buried, hundreds of young right-wing Israelis marched through downtown Jerusalem, screaming for revenge and chanting “death to Arabs.” Hours later, Mohammed was abducted near his home; his body was found shortly afterward. Palestinians immediately accused Jewish extremists of killing the youth.

Israeli officials said Sunday they believe Mohammed’s killers acted out of “nationalistic” motives.

One official described the suspects as young males, including several minors, and said they came from Jerusalem, the nearby city of Beit Shemesh and Adam, a West Bank settlement near Jerusalem.

Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., said there is a fundamental difference in how his side will deal with their suspects as opposed to the Palestinians.

“If they perpetrated these crimes, they will not be hailed as heroes by Israeli political leaders; there will not be public squares in Israel that will be named after them. Little schoolboys and schoolgirls in Israel will not emulate them as heroes,” he told “Fox News Sunday.”

“And that’s exactly what we have on the Palestinian side, where you have terrorists who are hailed as heroes by political leaders of the Palestinians, public squares named after murderers, children who learn to emulate murderers, who are taught to emulate murderers,” he continued. “That’s the difference between our societies, and it’s a difference we should never forget.”

The situation along Israel’s southern border with the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, remained tense. Gaza militants have stepped up rocket fire in recent weeks, drawing Israeli airstrikes in response.

By late Sunday afternoon, militants had fired more than 15 rockets and mortars into Israel, the military said. Overnight, Israel carried out airstrikes on 10 sites in Gaza. No injuries were immediately reported.

Also Sunday, Tariq Abu Khdeir, a 15-year-old Palestinian-American who was badly injured in clashes with Israeli police, was sentenced to nine days of home detention.

His parents say that Tariq, who goes to school in Florida, was beaten Thursday by Israeli police during clashes over the killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. The two youths were cousins.

Amateur video of what Tariq’s father Salah said was the beating aired on a local television station, and he said he could recognize his son from his clothing.

Mr. Dermer said the boy was alongside perpetrators of violence.

“Our police are under extreme threat in the Jerusalem area,” Mr. Dermer told ABC’s “This Week.” “They’re facing mobsters and rioters. It doesn’t mean that excessive force is acceptable — it’s never acceptable.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports

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