(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. government is condemning the murder of a Palestinian teenager whose body was found a day after three Israeli teenagers were found dead near the city of Hebron.
The body of Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, 17, was discovered in a forest Tuesday, charred and with signs of violence, according to the Israeli news website YNet. He was reportedly taken away while on his way to dawn prayers.
“It is sickening to think of an innocent 17 year old boy snatched off the streets and his life stolen from him and his family,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. “There are no words to convey adequately our condolences to the Palestinian people.”
A day earlier, the bodies of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach — who were kidnapped in the West Bank earlier this month — were found, fueling speculation that Khdeir’s death may have been in retaliation.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Wednesday there is no direct evidence linking the two attacks.
“I don’t have any independent evidence here. Obviously there’s an independent, there’s an investigation going on on the ground. That’s the appropriate place for this to take place,” she said.
The White House is calling on both sides to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“We call on the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take all necessary steps to prevent an atmosphere of revenge and retribution. People who undertake acts of vengeance will only destabilize an already volatile situation,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Wednesday.
Psaki said Kerry spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday and will continue to reach out to both sides.
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