Palestinian teenager's body found in Jerusalem

Media caption,
The BBC's Christian Fraser on the 'front line' in East Jerusalem

Israeli police have found the body of a Palestinian teenager who was kidnapped overnight in East Jerusalem.

Mohammed Abu Khdair, 17, was seen being forced into a car early on Wednesday. Within hours, his partly-burned corpse was discovered in a forest.

Israeli police were unable to confirm the motive, but Palestinian sources said it appeared to be a revenge attack for the murder of three Israeli teens.

Later, Palestinians clashed with Israeli police near the boy's home.

The protesters threw stones at the officers, who reportedly responded by firing sound bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets.

The mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, called for restraint.

'Despicable murder'

Witnesses said Mohammed Abu Khdair was abducted near his father's shop in the Arab district of Shufat in East Jerusalem.

A relative said he saw two men approach the boy and ask for directions before bundling him into a car.

Image source, Reuters
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Israeli police officers said they were looking into possible criminal or nationalistic motives for the killing

"While they were speaking to him, a car approached in which there was a third man," Saeed Abu Khudair told the Reuters news agency. "Two of them carried him. He was small so he couldn't resist."

"Some men who were nearby saw what happened. They chased after the kidnappers' car, but they couldn't catch it."

A few hours later, his body, partly burned and bearing marks of violence, was found abandoned in a forest near Givat Shaul, in the western outskirts of the city.

Israeli Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said it was too early to draw conclusions as to the motive.

"We know of a boy who apparently was abducted and we see a link to the discovery of a body. This is still under investigation by the forensic labs and detectives," he told reporters.

"Everything is being examined. There are many possibilities. There is a criminal possibility as well as a political one," he added. "I am telling everyone, let us wait patiently."

At the scene: Yolande Knell, BBC News, Jerusalem

Roads are closed off all around the Shufat neighbourhood of East Jerusalem as crowds of young Palestinians vent their anger. Some have begun destroying the shelters for the Israeli tram system.

Small groups are using catapults to launch stones at heavily armed Israeli police officers. They are responding with rounds of rubber bullets. An ambulance has whizzed past with sirens blaring suggesting there have been injuries.

The Palestinian teenager's funeral is expected to take place later on Wednesday; that will be another cause for tension.

While there has been no confirmation that this was a revenge attack for the three murdered Israelis whose bodies were found in the West Bank earlier this week, there is no doubt among Palestinians here about what has happened.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli police in East Jerusalem after news of the killing spread
Image source, Reuters
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Israeli police said security had been increased following the clashes
Image source, Reuters
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The violence comes a day after funerals were held in the West Bank for the three murdered Israeli teenagers
Image source, Reuters
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About 40 Palestinians were arrested in the West Bank in connection with the investigation into their deaths

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he had demanded that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "condemn the kidnapping and murder" of Mohammed Abu Khudair "as we condemned the kidnapping of the three Israelis".

He also called on the Israeli authorities to "take concrete steps on the ground to stop [revenge] attacks".

Shortly afterwards, Mr Netanyahu denounced what he called a "despicable murder".

"Prime Minister Netanyahu calls all sides not to take the law into their own hands - Israel is a law-abiding state and everyone is obliged to act according to it," his office said in a statement.

The killing comes a day after funerals were held in the West Bank for the three Jewish seminary students whose bodies were found near the city of Hebron on Monday, two-and-a-half weeks after they were abducted.

Media reaction to killing of Israeli teenagers


"How does one prevent the next event?... The answer is hard and painful. Without hot-headedness, without promises and hollow threats, what is left for us is to liquidate Hamas in the Gaza Strip, from the head of its leaders to the last terrorist." Brig-Gen Tzvika Fogel in Yisrael Hayom

"In a few days, when the dust settles and everyone finishes arguing, we will return to square one, to the core issue: For how many tens of years will it be possible to control another people?" Amnon Abramovitch in Yedioth Aharonot


"The world must know that the Israeli military operation launched in the wake of the three settlers' kidnapping caused great suffering for large sectors of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These people mostly have no political affiliations but are, nevertheless, paying the price of this collective punishment." Editorial in al-Quds

"The killing of the three settlers was met with the martyrdom of seven Palestinians, some of them as young as the settlers or even younger. So, why does the world denounce the killing of the settlers while no one denounces what the Israeli army has done against Palestinian citizens?" Ashraf al-Ajrami in al-Ayyam

Mr Netanyahu vowed to strike at Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group he holds responsible for their deaths. It has denied any involvement.

On Tuesday night, dozens of Israelis took to the streets of Jerusalem to protest against the murder of the three teenagers. There were reports that at one demonstration some people shouted "death to the Arabs".

About 40 Palestinians were arrested throughout the West Bank as the Israeli authorities continued to crack down on Hamas. Four were injured early on Wednesday after being shot during a raid in the city of Jenin.