2 Jul 2014

Teenager found dead in Jerusalem in possible revenge attack

As thousands attend the funeral of three Israeli teenagers, the body of a Palestinian youth is found in Jerusalem following what is thought to be a revenge attack.

The family of missing 17-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir say they now know it was his body discovered in a Jerusalem forest. Israel’s Ynet web site said the body was that of an Arab, that it was charred and showed signs of violence.

Israeli police are investigating if his death is connected to the reported kidnapping of a Palestinian youth in east Jerusalem on Wednesday morning. Palestinian residents told Reuters they saw a teenager forced into a vehicle outside a supermarket in the Shoafat section of Jerusalem.

I know that the murderers will be found. Israel will take a heavy hand until terror is uprooted. Shimon Peres

News of the disappearance brought hundreds of Palestinians onto the streets of east Jerusalem. where buildings were set alight and stones were thrown at the Israeli police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades.

Revenge killing?

A security source, speaking on a condition of anonymity, said Israel suspected the youth had been kidnapped and killed, possibly in retribution for the killings of the Israeli teens.

The three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped two weeks ago and their bodies were found near the city of Hebron on Monday. The latest killing, if found to connected to the three Israeli teenagers, will only serve to escalate tensions in the area further.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused extremist Jewish settlers of killing and burning the boy and demanded Israel hold the killers accountable.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said “We call upon the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take all necessary steps to prevent an atmosphere of revenge and retribution.”

Israel held a funeral for the three teenagers (video, above), attended by thousands, on Tuesday. At the funeral Israeli President Shimon Peres said Israel would take a “heavy hand” with the perpetrators.

“I know that the murderers will be found. Israel will take a heavy hand until terror is uprooted,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “They glorify death, and we glorify life. They glorify cruelty, and we glorify mercy. That is the secret of our strength and that is the foundation of our unity.”

Below: Israeli/Palestinian child conflict fatalities

Israel blames Hamas for the attack, and has launched airstrikes on a number of Hamas sites in the Gaza strip – seen as a retaliation. Hamas has praised the abductions, but has not taken responsibility for them.

Israel has also blown up or demolished the homes of those it suspects carried out the kidnapping and killing of the three teenagers.

In a West Bank refugee camp a funeral was also being held – that of Palestinian Yousouf Al-Zagha who was killed by Israeli police who were trying to arrest a militant.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said troops opened fire at a man, identified by Palestinian officials as 19-year-old al-Zagha, who threw a grenade at soldiers attempting to make an arrest at the Jenin refugee camp.