Violent clashes in East Jerusalem as Palestinian rage over murder of teenage boy spreads to Gaza Strip

Israel moves in reinforcements and bombs targets after rocket attacks on Israeli homes in the town of Sderot

jerusalem

Violent clashes erupted in occupied East Jerusalem for a second day amid Palestinian rage over the murder of a sixteen-year-old boy as Israel moved troop reinforcements to the edge of the Gaza Strip.

Masked youths pelted Israeli security forces with stones this afternoon near the Jerusalem house of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, whose body was found on Wednesday in a forest. He is believed by Palestinians to have been murdered as a reprisal for the deaths of three Israeli teenagers abducted and killed in the West Bank.

The renewed violence came a day after the worst clashes in Jerusalem in years as Palestinians confronted security forces, fuelling comparisons with the intifada uprisings that erupted in 1987 and 2000.

Israel sent armoured and infantry reinforcements to the edge of the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas, and warned that they were ready to take further action if rocket attacks were not halted. Following the death of  Abu Khdeir, 16 rockets were launched from the Strip into Israeli homes in the town of Sderot. No one was hurt, but 15 Palestinians were wounded in retaliatory airstrikes.

“What will happen depends on Hamas,” said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. “If rockets continue to be fired, Israel is ready to respond. If there will be an escalation, it will be because the current situation continues.”

 

At the freshly erected mourning tent of the Abu Khdeir family, those gathered waited for the return of the body following today’s autopsy. Relatives became impatient as it became likely that the funeral would be postponed until today.

“I’m very tired and sad in losing my son. He was killed in cold blood and only god can help us in taking revenge,” said Mohammed’s father, Hussein. “There is no security and no safety here. They killed my son and burned him, they did what the Germans did to the Jews when they killed and burned them. This is an act of revenge against Arabs.”

Hassan Sweilem, a driver, joined mourners in the tent and is among those hoping the violent clashes will lead to a fresh uprising. “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and the one who started is the aggressor,” he said.

Outside the house, youths smashed what was left of an Israeli light rail station and pried blocks out of the pavement between the tracks as ammunition for the brewing battle with police.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said officers were investigating not just whether the murder was a nationalist revenge killing but also the possibility that it was carried out for “criminal” reasons. “We’re trying to get clear cut results as quickly as possible,” he added.

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