South Bay family talks about cousin's murder in Jerusalem

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South Bay relatives of murdered 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir spoke with ABC7 News about the violence in Jerusalem.

There is outrage and heartbreak after a Palestinian teen was kidnapped and murdered outside Jerusalem. Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16, was stabbed and burned to death Tuesday. His family in the South Bay spoke to ABC7 News Thursday night.

Yusra Abu Khdeir is glued to her Facebook page and to her phone, as she waits for more information about the death of her nephew, Mohammed. The 16-year-old was kidnapped Tuesday morning in the town of Shuafat.

"I took it really hard. That day I couldn't speak, I couldn't stop crying," Yusra said.

But since Mohammed's murder, Shuafat has been in chaos. The violence has escalated, more kidnappings have been reported and the South Bay family says relatives, visiting the region from the U.S. have been targeted and even arrested.

"They're paying the price for something they didn't do," Mae Abu Khdeir, Mohammed's cousin, said. "It's revenge just plain revenge. That's it."

Many believe Mohammed's murder was in retaliation for the killings of three Israeli teens earlier this week. That's what's reignited tensions there, which those in the Bay Area family think have reached a boiling point. And now plans to visit Shuafat have been cancelled.

"To think we were supposed to be there, it's just really scary," Sophia Abu Khdeir, Mohammed's cousin, said."My mom and dad won't send us, just for our safety."

The Abu Khdeirs wish things were different. Another cousin, Balal, who lives in Sacramento, went to east Jerusalem last year.

Balal said, "This wasn't an adult who made adult decisions. This is a child. Why was he the victim? Because he was at the wrong place at the wrong time? He was vulnerable. A little child, 90 pounds."

Balal's family owns Billy's Market and Deli in Downtown Sacramento. They moved there to escape the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict that has taken so many lives.

Mohammed was heading to a mosque for Ramadan services when three men pulled up in a car and kidnapped him. His body has not been returned to the family. For now the family is demanding justice, but also praying for peace.

"I don't want retaliation," Balal said. "I don't. That's not going to make anybody grow. You have to live in peace."

A vigil was held Thursday night in Sacramento. It was a public service where Mohammed's family received condolences and prayers from the community at the Salam Center.

There will also be a vigil at the corner of Winchester and Stevens Creek Boulevard on Friday from 7:30-8:30 p.m.

KXTV contributed to this report.
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