“I pledge that the perpetrators of this horrific crime, which must be resolutely condemned in the most forceful language, will face the full weight of the law,” Netanyahu said on Sunday.
“I know that in our society, the society of Israel, there is no place for such murderers.”
“And that’s the difference between us and our neighbors,” he continued. “They consider murderers to be heroes. They name public squares after them. We don’t. We condemn them and we put them on trial and we’ll put them in prison.”
“We do not differentiate between the terrorists and we will respond to all of them, wherever they come from, with a firm hand,” Netanyahu said. “We will not allow extremists from wherever they come to ignite the region and shed more blood.”
The death of 16 year-old Mohammad Abu Khdair, whose body was found in Jerusalem Forest on Wednesday, came two days after the bodies of three Israeli teenagers were found on Monday in the West Bank, more than two weeks after they were abducted on their way home from school. The young Palestinian’s death is assumed to have been a revenge killing.
An Israeli manhunt for the killers of Israeli-American Naftali Frenkel, 16, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, has yet to net two Hamas members from Hebron named earlier as suspects. By contrast Israel’s investigation into Khdair’s killing brought relatively speedy results.
Netanyahu called on the Palestinian Authority (P.A.), which administers Hebron, to do all in its power to help bring to justice the killers of the three Israeli teens.
There was no public reaction Sunday from P.A. chairman Mahmoud Abbas to news of the arrests of the Khdair murder suspects. Abbas did, however, hand to a U.N. an “urgent” written appeal to secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to set up an investigation into violations against Palestinians, including the killing of Khdair.
Abbas in the letter also protested what he called “the ongoing attacks against our people in the besieged Gaza Strip,” according to the official P.A. news agency, Wafa.
Israel has carried out airstrikes against what it describes as terrorist targets in Gaza following an increase in the number of rockets launched from the Hamas-ruled territory in recent weeks.
The Israeli army said 25 rockets launched from Gaza landed in Israel on Sunday alone, the latest of more than 150 that had been launched over the past month. Hamas said early Monday seven of its fighters had been killed in airstrikes.
Earlier, Hamas’ Gaza-based Alresalah newspaper quoted senior Hamas official Mosheer al-Masri warning the group would escalate “the toughness of confrontations.”
Abbas early last month set up an interim, Hamas-backed “unity” government pending long-overdue elections, after reaching a reconciliation agreement between his Fatah faction and Hamas – a U.S. government-designated foreign terrorist organization.
In contrasting the way that Israelis and Palestinians treat killers Netanyahu was alluding to the reception the P.A. has given Palestinian prisoners freed by Israel under agreements designed to generate goodwill in peace talks.
In the most recent such release, involving 26 prisoners early this year, Abbas hosted a public ceremony where he hailed them as “heroes.” Twenty-four of the 26 freed prisoners had been serving life or lengthy prison terms for murdering either Israelis or Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel.
In 2011, Israel released more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been held captive by Hamas in Gaza for five years. Hundreds of those prisoners had been serving life sentences for offenses including some of the deadliest terrorist attacks carried out in Israel over the previous decade, including suicide bombings in public buses and restaurants.
At a welcome-home rally in Ramallah for some of the first batch of prisoners released that October, Abbas called them “freedom fighters and holy warriors for the sake of God and the homeland.”
Netanyahu also referred to terrorists being honored in the P.A. areas. Among such incidents:
--After Israel last April handed over to the P.A. the remains of a terrorist who had carried out a 2001 suicide bombing at a Jerusalem eatery, the bomber was given a military funeral in the West Bank and the official P.A. newspaper praised him as a hero and martyr. When Izz Al-Din Al-Masri detonated his device in the Sbarro pizza restaurant he killed 15 people, seven of them children, and injured 130 more.
--Abbas in July 2010 hailed as a national hero the recently-deceased Mohammed Oudeh (Abu Daoud), a PLO terrorist who masterminded the attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
--When another Munich plotter, Amin Al-Hindi, died a month later, Abbas gave him a military funeral.
--Abbas’ Fatah in 2010 renamed a town square in Ramallah in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, a female PLO terrorist involved in a 1978 attack in which 35 Israelis were killed. Several schools in the West Bank and Gaza have also been named after Mughrabi, as have streets in several P.A.-administered towns, including Jericho.
--Also in 2010, it was announced that a street in Ramallah was being renamed after Yihye Ayyash, a Hamas bomb-maker held responsible for deploying suicide bombers who killed scores of Israelis over a three-year period before he was himself killed in a 1996 explosion, in what was believed to have been an Israeli security operation.
At the time of the street naming, a U.S. State Department spokesman said, “Honoring terrorists who have murdered innocent civilians either by official statements or by the dedication of public places hurts peace efforts and must end.”
Ayyash’s name has also been given to a street in his Gaza hometown of Beit Lahia and another in the West Bank city of Jenin. In 1996 Abbas’ predecessor, Yasser Arafat, named a public square in Jericho for him.
--In 2005, the P.A. granted honorary Palestinian citizenship to Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese terrorist who at the time was serving several life sentences for an attack which involved the shooting of a father in front of his four year-old daughter, who was then battered to death with a rifle butt. (Kuntar was later freed and returned to Lebanon in a controversial exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers captured in a Hezbollah cross-border raid in 2006.)
A 2010 report by Palestinian Media Watch, a non-governmental organization that monitors P.A. media and government publications, listed 100 examples of places and events in the P.A. areas, named after 46 terrorists.