Overnight the body of a Palestinian teenager from Jerusalem was found in a forest in the city. It appears to be confirmed that his name is Mohammed Abu Khdeir. The featured image is from Twitter.

Immediately, there was speculation in the media and social media that it was a revenge killing for the murder of three Israeli teens who had been kidnapped and whose bodies were located just a few days ago.

On social media in particular, the speculation was not really speculation — it was announced by the usual suspects to be definitively a revenge kidnapping and murder by “settlers.” There have been riots in an Arab section of Jerusalem, including the destruction of the Light Rail system, based on the rumors. Forest fires also are being set.

The truth is that as of this writing, we don’t really know who did it, and why. The allegation that it was a revenge killing is unconfirmed as of this writing.

Israeli police are following three paths of investigation: (1) it was a revenge killing, (2) it was an honor killing related to the teen’s sexuality, and (3) it was part of a non-political murder as part of an ongoing feud between families.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (and the family of one of the murdered Israeli teens) issued a swift condemnation and promise to find out who and why the teen was killed:

We will continue to follow this and will update or have new posts as actual facts are known.


The Times of Israel is citing unnamed sources that the police are leaning towards it being a revenge attack. By contrast, Haaretz in an evening (Israel time) entry on its live blog quotes an Israeli police official as saying the motive is not known:

7:44 P.M. Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch briefs Netanyahu on the investigation into the murder of Abu Khdeir. It is as yet impossible to determine the motive, Aharonovitch says.

Haaretz’ 9:30 p.m. (Israel time) update says police have made little headway:

As of Wednesday evening, the Israel Police and Shin Bet security service had yet to make headway in the investigation of the murder of a young man in East Jerusalem on Tuesday night. Aside from the possibility that the murder was a nationalistic hate crime carried out by an Israeli terror cell in response to the murders of the three teenagers kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank, it is possible it was carried out by Palestinians for other reasons, the police believe.