The move was prompted by Abu Khieder's family, which requested that his name not be listed. That followed protests by Jewish victims of terror, who said its inclusion was inappropriate.
Abu Khieder, a resident of annexed East Jerusalem, was killed July 2 by three Israeli Jews in retaliation for the kidnapping and killing of Israeli teenagers by a Hamas terror cell in the West Bank a few weeks earlier, to which the youth had no connection. The killing sparked months of widespread protests and civil unrest by Arab residents of the city.
According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, 12 percent of the 300,000 Palestinians who live in Jerusalem hold Israeli citizenship. The rest are permanent residents, entitled to certain welfare benefits under Israeli law.
Because Abu Khieder was a permanent resident and his killing was racially motivated, the Defense Ministry immediately recognized him as a victim of a ‘hostile action.' Haim Fitusi, a spokesman for the National Insurance Institute, which determines who is a victim of terror, said in an interview Wednesday that the circumstances surrounding the boy's death made it logical to add his name to the national memorial for terror victims.
The memorial had been updated this week — ahead of Israel's Memorial Day on Wednesday — with the names of civilians killed in terror attacks over the past year.
In interviews with Israeli media, Hussein Abu Khieder, Mohammad's father, said he had asked for his son's name to be removed because no one sought his permission to add it to the list. What's more, he said, the family is Palestinian, not Israeli.
He said he realized that although the memorial was meant to honor his son, he was more interested in seeing justice carried out by Israel.
"My son is gone, my son was burned, and we were burned with him. I want justice and not honor. What good is it going to do me if they carve his name in stone?" Hussein told the Israeli news website Ynet.
The three Jews responsible for Abu Khieder’s murder — none of them affiliated with any particular extremist group — admitted to the crime, even re-enacting it for police. But two are minors who claim that the crime was not premeditated, and the third, an adult named Yosef Haim Ben-David, is pleading insanity. His attorneys say he is not mentally fit to respond to the charges against him in court.
Earlier this week, members of one of the country's main terror victims association, Almagor, said it was inappropriate to include Abu Khieder's name among those who were killed merely for being Jewish and Israeli.
“We believe that Memorial Day, taking place strategically one day before Israel’s Independence Day celebrations, is for recognizing those victims who fell in the name of the State of Israel,” Meir Indor, head of Almagor, said in an interview. Israel's Memorial Day is held to remember soldiers and civilians killed for either defending the country or because they are citizens of it.
“What happened to him was a terrible crime, but it does not fit into this picture. It is a different situation,” he said.
In a letter sent to the head of the National Insurance Institute, Almagor also requested removing Abu Khieder's name from the memorial.
“We absolutely condemn the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, but the boy was killed by a delusional bunch of people with questionable sanity. Their actions were condemned by society as a whole and the killers were not members of a terrorist organization who are enemies of the State of Israel, the motive of the murder was personal,” the organization wrote in the letter.