A Palestinian teenager has been kidnapped and killed in an apparent act of revenge for the murder by militants of three Israeli youths, triggering clashes in east Jerusalem.
Israel’s army radio said the teenager was snatched on today while hitchhiking in east Jerusalem and his body dumped in a forest in the western part of the city, in what was described as a “suspected revenge attack”.
As the news spread, crowds of angry Palestinians gathered outside the teenager’s home and began throwing stones at police, who responded with sound bombs and rubber bullets, an AFP correspondent and police said.
Two journalists were lightly injured by rubber bullets.
Palestinian media outlets named the boy as 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khder from Shuafat.
Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat denounced the murder and called for calm.
“This is a horrible and barbaric act which I strongly condemn. This is not our way and I am fully confident that our security forces will bring the perpetrators to justice,” he said in a statement.
“I call on everyone to exercise restraint.” Tensions have soared across the region since June 12 when three Israeli teenagers disappeared while hitchhiking in the West Bank. Their bodies were found on Monday, with Israel blaming Hamas for the triple killings and vowed to hit the Islamist movement hard. Early on Wednesday, police received a call about a suspected kidnapping from Beit Hanina, a well-heeled Arab neighbourhood of east Jerusalem, prompting a widespread search operation, spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP.
“In the early hours of Wednesday morning, police received a report of a person being forced into a car in Beit Hanina,” she told AFP.
“Within an hour, a body was found in Jerusalem that has still not been identified. We are looking to see if there is a connection between the two incidents.” Quoting witnesses, army radio said the youth was seen being forced into a black Honda Civic which had been seen in the area the night before.
A cousin of the missing youth who gave his name only as Mahmud, said locals had given chase, but were unable to catch the fleeing car.
“They chased him in two cars through the village. The cars drove fast but they didn’t manage to reach them,” he told the radio. Residents had filed a police complaint in recent days that someone in the same car had tried unsuccessfully to snatch a seven-year-old child.
Shortly after the kidnapping was reported, a body was found in a forest near Givat Shaul in west Jerusalem, the radio said, indicating it had been burned. It had earlier said there were signs of stab wounds.
Outside the home of the missing Palestinian teenager in Shuafat, more than 200 angry youths began throwing stones and blocked the light rail from passing through a nearby settlement neighbourhood, police said.