Palestinian teen’s ‘revenge’ murder sparks riots
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Palestinians accused Israeli extremists of killing an Arab teenager and burning his body on Wednesday, sparking hours of clashes in east Jerusalem amid accusations that the youth was murdered to avenge the killings of three Israeli teens.
Hundreds of masked Palestinians hurled stones at Israeli riot police, who responded by firing rubber bullets, tear gas and sound bombs.
The clashes in the slain teen’s Shuafat neighbourhood have left at least 65 people wounded, three by live bullets, while some 35 people were injured by rubber bullets, including six journalists, according to the Red Crescent.
Seeking to calm the explosive situation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged a swift inquiry into the “reprehensible murder” and called on people to respect the rule of law.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it was clear extremist Jewish settlers were responsible and called on Israel to bring the killers to justice.
“The settlers have killed and burned a little boy. They are well known,” Abbas said, accusing Israel of tolerating settler violence toward Palestinians. “I demand that the Israeli government hold the killers accountable.”
The death added to the already heightened tensions caused by the killings of the three Israeli teenagers, whose bodies were discovered on Monday just over two weeks after they disappeared in the West Bank.
Calls for revenge followed, with more than 200 Israelis rampaging through Jerusalem after the teenaged boys were laid to rest Tuesday, dragging people out of cars and chanting “death to Arabs”.
Warning from US
US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that acts of vengeance would worsen an explosive situation.
“At this tense and dangerous moment, all parties must do everything in their power to protect the innocent and act with reasonableness and restraint, not recrimination and retribution,” he said.
Eyewitnesses told AFP the Palestinian youth, Mohammed Abu Khder, was seen being forced into a car by three Israelis in occupied east Jerusalem.
Police confirmed a body had been found in a forest in Givat Shaul in west Jerusalem, although they refused to link the two incidents.
But DNA tests proved the body was that of the missing teenager, his father said.
“The body belongs to my son,” Hussein Abu Khder told AFP, adding that the cause of death was not immediately clear.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for justice over the “despicable act,” and the International Committee of the Red Cross appealed for the violence to stop.
“At this critical time, the ICRC calls on all sides to stand unequivocally against the abduction and murder of civilians,” said Red Cross president Peter Maurer. “The current spiral of violence, loss and suffering must stop now.”
The family of one of the slain Israeli teens, still in mourning, said any revenge murder was a “horrendous act”.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)