Clashes erupted between Palestinians and the Israeli Defence Forces Wednesday after the body of a Palestinian teenager was found with marks of violence in East Jerusalem, in what appeared to be a revenge killing for the murder of three Israeli youths.
The Palestinian teenager, Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, was abducted late Tuesday, a day after the bodies of the three Jewish seminary students were discovered in the West Bank not far from the place where they went missing June 12.
An angry crowd of more than 300 people gathered around Abu Khdeir’s home after his body was found in a park and hurled stones and other objects at the security forces, Efe reported.
Witnesses told Efe they saw the Palestinian teenager being forced into a car outside a mosque in the Shuafat district, near a shopping area in East Jerusalem.
Israeli police confirmed Wednesday that an investigation will be opened to check if the teenager was killed in revenge for the death of the three Israeli youths, who were buried Tuesday.
Jerusalem mayor Nir Barakat Wednesday condemned the murder of Abu Khdeir, which he described as “barbaric and horrific”.
Barakat also called for restraint until the security forces bring those responsible to justice.
Tension between Israelis and Palestinians has heightened since the three Israeli students were found dead.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds Hamas responsible for their deaths and has vowed to strike at the Palestinian Islamist group.
Tuesday night, four Israeli youths were arrested after attacking two Palestinians who worked at a fast food restaurant in the pedestrian area of Jerusalem, Efe cited local media as reporting.
The online edition of the Yediot Aharonot newspaper also reported clashes in Jaffa street, the main business area of the Holy City, where demonstrators put up blockades and tried to storm the Menahe Yehuda market as they chanted “Death to Arabs” and demanded that Israel take revenge.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Defence Forces said 42 Palestinians – 40 of them members of the Islamic movement Hamas – had been arrested Tuesday night in the West Bank as part of the operation launched to find those responsible for the deaths of the Israeli students.
The latest arrests bring to 450 the number of Palestinians detained since a massive search began for the abducted youths 20 days ago, according to military sources.
Palestinian sources raised the figure of those arrested over the past three weeks to 600.
During the search operation seven Palestinians were killed, five of them shot directly by Israeli soldiers.
No one claimed responsibility Wednesday for the abduction and murder of the Palestinian teenager, but suspicion fell on the Tag Mechir group, which has regularly targeted Palestinians.
Meanwhile, Xinhua reported from Ramallah that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu condemn the suspected retaliatory killing of an Arab teenager in occupied East Jerusalem early Wednesday.
“We demand Netanyahu condemn the kidnap and murder of a Palestinian teenager as we did condemn the abduction and killing of three Israeli settlers,” Abbas said in a press statement published by official Palestinian news agency Wafa.
Abbas also demanded that the perpetrators be brought to book, urging the Israeli government to stop the settlers’ attacks as well as the ongoing military escalation which has left 15 Palestinians dead since the beginning of June.