Jerusalem – Israeli police have arrested six people in connection with the murder of a Palestinian teenager who Palestinians say was killed in revenge for the murder of three teenage settlers last month.
The suspects appeared before a magistrate in the central city of Petah Tikva for an arraignment on Sunday.
Police said the six, several of them minors, are from Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, and Adam, an illegal settlement in the West Bank near Jerusalem.
Thousands of Hamas supporters marched in Gaza demanding revenge for the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was abducted and burned alive.
Speaking on Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said: “I promise you that we will prosecute those that committed this shocking crime to the full extent of the law.”
The arrests come as Israeli jets attacked at least ten sites in Gaza in response to rocket attacks, killing at least nine Palestinian fighters.
Channel 10 reported that those arrested on Sunday took part in a right-wing demonstration in the city just hours before the murder, at which protesters chanted “death to the Arabs”.
Abu Khdeir, 17, was abducted on Wednesday morning outside his home in the Shuafat area of occupied East Jerusalem.
His charred body was found in a Jerusalem forest hours later.
The Palestinian Authority attorney general said on Saturday that a post-mortem examination concluded he was burned to death.
Family members said immediately that he was killed because of the murder of the three settlers – Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel – who were kidnapped last month. Their bodies were found on Monday in a valley outside of Hebron.
Their deaths prompted widespread calls for revenge on social media, and among Israeli politicians, with Netanyahu mentioning “vengeance” in a statement on Monday night.
Media outlets and right-wing activists nonetheless claimed last week, with no evidence, that Abu Khdeir was killed in a family dispute, with several even suggesting that he was murdered for being homosexual.
“[The arrests] are a positive step, for once,” Ahmed Tibi, a Palestinian member of Knesset, told Al Jazeera in Shuafat on Sunday.
“But we knew from the beginning… that this was done by racist Jewish murderers, who were influenced by the constant incitement from ministers and rabbis.”
Tibi demanded that the United Nations form a committee to investigate Abu Khdeir’s murder, and the deaths of at least five Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli army during the 18-day search for the missing settlers.
“Our blood is not cheap,” he said.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas echoed his call in a statement on Sunday and urged Israel to prosecute the right-wing groups that have called for violence against Palestinians.
“The Israeli authorities refuse to prosecute these settler groups… [they] should be regarded as illegal and illegitimate,” he said.
Abu Khdeir’s murder sparked three days of violent clashes with police in Shuafat and other East Jerusalem neighbourhoods, which left more than 100 people injured. The neighbourhood was quiet on Sunday afternoon, but residents said they expected the fighting to resume after nightfall.
Separately on Sunday, a Jerusalem court released on bail Tariq Abu Khdeir, Mohammed’s cousin, days after he was arrested and allegedly assaulted by Israeli police.