JERUSALEM (CBSNewYork/AP) — The suspected abduction of an Arab teen followed by the discovery of a body in Jerusalem on Wednesday ignited clashes between Israeli police and stone-throwing Palestinians, who saw it as a revenge attack for the killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank.
Police have not determined whether the reported incidents are related or what motive may have been behind them, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged authorities to swiftly investigate the “reprehensible murder” and called on all sides “not to take the law into their own hands.”
Tensions have mounted between Israel and the Palestinians after the bodies of three Israeli teens were found in the West Bank more than two weeks after they went missing.
Israel has accused Hamas of abducting and killing the three teens and has arrested hundreds of its members across the West Bank. Rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has meanwhile intensified, and has been met with Israeli air strikes.
On Tuesday, several hundred right-wing Israeli youths marched through Jerusalem, demanding revenge for the deaths.
The missing boy, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 17, was approached by a car early Wednesday in a Palestinian neighborhood of east Jerusalem and then forced into it before it sped off, his cousin Saed Abu Khdeir said.
He believes his cousin was murdered by Israelis in an act of revenge.
“It’s a clear crime by settlers in revenge for the killing of the three,” he said.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police received a report early Wednesday that an Arab teen was “forcibly pulled into a vehicle” in an area of east Jerusalem and that an hour later a body was discovered in a separate part of the city.
As news of the youth’s disappearance spread, hundreds of Palestinians in east Jerusalem torched light rail train stations and hurled stones at Israeli police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades.
Rosenfeld said security was heightened following the clashes.
He said the death may have been a revenge killing, but that the motive could also have been criminal. Israeli officials urged calm as police investigated the incidents, hoping to contain the violence.
“Everything is being examined. There are many possibilities. There is a criminal possibility as well as a political one,” Israel’s public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, told Israel Radio. “I am telling everyone, let us wait patiently.”
Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Netanyahu in a statement to condemn the death.
Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Abbas, said Israel was being held responsible for the death and called on it to “find the killers and hold them accountable,” according to the Palestinian official news agency Wafa.
“What’s happening in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem today are war crimes and the Israeli government is fully responsible for this,” chief Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat added.
Yifrah, Shaar and Fraenkel disappeared on the night of June 12 as they were hitchhiking home from Jewish seminaries they attended in the West Bank.
A part of an emergency call made to Israeli police by one of the teens shortly after they were taken prisoner reveals the voices of one of the teens, a police officer and the terrorists, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
That recording reveals the sound of gunfire, expressions of joy from the terrorists and what sounds like a cry of pain from one of the teenagers, Kramer reported.
The abductions sparked Israel’s broadest ground operation in the West Bank in nearly a decade, with the military deploying thousands of troops in a frantic search for the youths.
The discovery of their bodies prompted an outpouring of grief both in Israel and in the U.S.
An estimated 50,000 mourners attended Tuesday’s funeral in the central Israeli city of Modiin, arriving in hundreds of buses organized for the occasion.
In New York, nearly 2,000 people filled the Jewish Center on the Upper West Side as the victims were laid to rest.
“I’d like each of you to take a look into the eyes of each of these boys, and to know that behind every face there is an entire personality, is an entire inner world,” said Fraenkel’s cousin, Manny Halberstam. “And those internal worlds are no longer with us.”
Fraenkel’s grandparents had lived in Brooklyn until moving to Israel in the 1950s.
Vigils were held for the teens at the Jewish Children’s Museum in Crown Heights and outside the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan last month.
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