Clashes spread over Palestinian teen 'burnt alive'


Masked Palestinian protesters throw stones towards Israeli police a day after a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and killed in an apparent act of revenge for the murder by militants of three Israeli youths.

A Palestinian teenager whose abduction and murder caused violent protests was burned alive, autopsy reports show, as clashes over the killing spread Saturday from east Jerusalem to Arab Israeli towns.

Mohammed Abu Khder, 16, was abducted from his Shuafat neighbourhood in occupied east Jerusalem early Wednesday, and his charred body found not long afterwards in a west Jerusalem forest.

Palestinians said Jewish extremists killed him in revenge for the kidnapping and murder in the West Bank last month of three Israeli teenagers.

Palestinian news agency Maan quoted Attorney General Mohammed Aluweiwi on Saturday as saying the initial findings of a post-mortem indicated the presence of smoke in the boy’s lungs, meaning he was still alive while being burned.

Masked Palestinian protesters throw stones towards Israeli police
Masked Palestinian protesters throw stones towards Israeli police

Abu Khder also suffered a head wound, but that was not the cause of death, Aluweiwi added.

Israeli police said they still could not confirm the motive for Abu Khder’s murder.

A spokeswoman told AFP police were investigating “all possibilities”, and that there was a gag order on all details of the investigation.

The teenager’s funeral on Friday, attended by thousands of mourners, was accompanied by clashes across Israeli-annexed Arab east Jerusalem, the third straight day of violence since his body was found.

Disturbances that had spread to the Arab towns of Taibe in northeastern Israel and Jaljulia and Qalansuwa in the centre broke out again on Saturday, spreading to Umm el-Fahm, Arara and Nazareth as well, police said.

The road between Taibe and Tira remained closed on Saturday, while the route by Qalansuwa was reopened after being closed for several hours.

Police said one officer was injured by a stone near Arara, and noted that 24 Arab Israeli suspects have been arrested in the recent clashes.

One of those arrested in the east Jerusalem clashes was Tariq Abu Khder, the 15-year-old cousin of the murdered Palestinian youth and an American citizen currently on holiday.

Speaking to AFP Saturday, his parents said Tariq was arrested in Shuafat after being beaten by police on Thursday.

A video circulated on social media showed what appears to be Israeli border police beating and kicking a handcuffed semi-conscious figure before dragging him away.

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The parents, who saw their son in an Israeli hospital, said they were told Tariq had been arrested for being masked.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri could not confirm it was Tariq in the video, but said the footage was from the arrest of a group of six Palestinians, of whom Tariq was one.

Samri said police found a sling on Tariq, who attacked police and resisted arrest, while others were stoning police officers and throwing Molotov cocktails at them.

Samri said six police were wounded during that arrest operation.

Abu Khder will appear before a Jerusalem court on Sunday, his parents said.

Meanwhile, militants fired more rockets and mortar rounds at Israel from Gaza Saturday amid Egyptian efforts to broker a renewed truce between Israel and its Islamist foe Hamas following a flare-up of cross-border violence.

The army said 15 rockets and mortar rounds were fired at southern Israel on Saturday, and one soldier was lightly wounded by mortar fire.

One rocket approaching Beersheba was shot down by the Iron Dome anti-missile defence system.

Israeli warplanes attacked three sites in southern Gaza, sources on both sides said.

Authorities inside the Palestinian coastal enclave said the air raids targeted training camps of Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, in Rafah and Khan Younis, as well as an empty field in Khan Yunis.

No injuries were reported.

There has been a surge in militant rocket fire and retaliatory Israeli air raids since the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers prompted a huge crackdown on Hamas in the occupied West Bank.

Hamas sources told AFP they were not interested in escalation, but said attacks on Israel from Gaza were in response to Israeli “aggression” in Gaza, east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

According to the sources, there has been no real communication between Hamas and the Egyptians trying to mediate a truce since Friday.