OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: A Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and killed Wednesday, apparently in revenge for the murder of three Israeli youths, prompting international calls for calm as violence flared in Jerusalem.
News of the discovery of 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Khudair, who was last seen being bundled into a van earlier in the day, triggered clashes between rock-throwing Palestinians and Israeli police in the city.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Jewish settlers of killing Abu Khudair and demanded that Israel “mete out the strongest punishment against the murderers if it truly wants peace.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged police “to swiftly investigate who was behind the loathsome murder and its motive.” He called on all sides “not to take the law into their own hands.”
Police said they had found a body in the wooded outskirts of Jerusalem. “The body belongs to my son,” Hussein Abu Khudair said.
An Israeli security source said Israel suspected the youth had been kidnapped and murdered, possibly in retribution for the killings of the Israeli teens.
Tensions have soared across the region since June 12 when three Israeli teenagers disappeared while hitchhiking in the West Bank. Their bodies were found Monday, with Israel blaming Hamas and vowing to hit it hard.
The family of 16-year-old Naftali Frenkel, one of the three Israeli teenagers, condemned the latest attack as a “horrendous act.”
“There is no difference between Arab blood and Jewish blood. Murder is murder. There is no forgiveness or justification for any murder,” they said in a statement.
However, calls for revenge followed the teens’ funerals, with more than 200 Israelis rampaging through Jerusalem after they were laid to rest Tuesday, dragging people out of cars and chanting “Death to Arabs.”
Soon after dawn Wednesday in the Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhood of Shuafat, crowds of angry Palestinians gathered outside the Abu Khudair’s home, with violence erupting within hours and continuing for most of the day.
Hundreds of masked Palestinians hurled stones at Israeli riot police, who responded by firing rubber bullets, tear gas and sound bombs.
The Red Crescent said at least 65 people were hurt, three by live bullets. At least 35 people were injured by rubber bullets, including six journalists.
Shuafat’s normally bustling main road was littered with stones and the light rail service that passes through the neighborhood was suspended.
As the clashes raged in Shuafat, where the streets were littered with burning dumpsters and makeshift barricades, the only place of relative calm was the family home.
A cousin of the teen said witnesses had written down the car’s licence plate number and police were examining CCTV footage.
He said the 16-year-old was grabbed off the street after leaving his home in Shuafat to go to morning prayers with friends.
“Somebody ran into the house to say one of the boys had been dragged into a white van, so [Mohammad’s] mother called the police,” the cousin, Naima, said.
Hamas, accused by Israel of the triple killing, held Israel’s government directly responsible for Wednesday’s death, warning it: “You will pay the price for your crimes.”Tensions were high across the West Bank. Four people were wounded by live bullets early in the day in an Israeli raid in Jenin.
Near Hebron, Israeli forces destroyed the home of a Palestinian arrested on charges of shooting dead an off-duty police officer in the West Bank in April.
Meanwhile nine mortar rounds fired from Gaza hit southern Israel, the military said, adding it had targeted the source of the attack with an airstrike.