Palestinian protesters throw stones at an Israeli military tower in West bank city of Bethlehem.
Palestinian protesters throw stones at an Israeli military tower in West bank city of Bethlehem.

Tensions soar in east Jerusalem; Israel moves troops near Gaza strip braving heavy firing by Hamas

Jerusalem : Tensions soared in Arab-dominated areas of east Jerusalem on Thursday following the death of a young Arab boy in a suspected “revenge” attack by rightwing extremists as Israel moved troops to its border with Gaza Strip amid heavy rocket, mortar attacks by Hamas militants, reports PTI.

East Jerusalem, where an overwhelming Arab majority resides, remained tensed a day after clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian demonstrators occurred following the discovery of the body of the 16-year-old boy, bearing signs of violence.

The incident appeared to be a revenge attack by rightwing Israeli extremists to avenge the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in West Bank earlier this week. However, police have not yet ascertained whether the killing was “nationalistic or criminally motivated”.

The deceased Arab boy’s family has accused the Israeli authorities of holding the body unnecessarily. The police deny the charges.

More clashes are feared after the funeral. Protesters threw stones at officers, who responded by firing sound bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the murder as “despicable” and said he had ordered police to work “as quickly as possible to find out who was behind the heinous murder of the youth”.

He called on both sides “not to take the law into their own hands”.          Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has accused Jewish settlers in the West Bank of killing the boy and called for “strongest punishment against the murderers.” The family of one of the three murdered Israeli teenagers also issued a statement condemning the killing of the boy.

Meanwhile, Israel retaliated to overnight rocket attacks from Gaza with 15 air strikes on the coastal strip mainly targeting suspected warehouses of arsenals. Nine of the overnight rockets fired from Gaza hit Israeli territory.

Ten Palestinians were reportedly injured in Israeli air strikes. “The Israeli Air Force attacked 15 terror sites in Gaza early Thursday morning,” an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) official said.

“The targets included weapons manufacturing sites as well as training facilities,” he added.

Security sources here said that Israel’s air attacks on Gaza should not be seen as part of any action it may be planning to take against Hamas for the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers.

 Harinder Mishra            

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