As reported yesterday morning, Arabs in east Jerusalem rioted and clashed with police in several locations on Wednesday in the wake of the early-morning discovery of the burned body of an 16-year-old Arab youth in a Jerusalem forest.
Mohammed Abu Khader, 17, was a resident of the city’s northern Shuafat neighborhood.
While much media speculation suggested the killing was a Jewish revenge attack “We still don’t know whether it’s a nationalistic or criminal murder,” Israel Police Spokesman Rosenfeld said.
The violence comes a day after slain Israeli teens Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrach, and Gilad Shaar were laid to rest together on Tuesday, at a emotional funeral attended by thousands of Israelis.
The Frankel family expressed shock and horror over the death of the Arab youth, in a statement released to the press.
“We don’t know what happened last night in east Jerusalem, and the police are investigating. However, if, in fact, an Arab youth was killed for nationalistic reasons, then we’re talking about an awful and shocking deed,” the statement read.
“There is no difference between blood and blood,” according to the statement, which was published in Israel’s Ma’ariv daily. “Murder is murder, whatever the nationality and age. There is no justification, nor forgiving, and no atonement for any murder.”
“Police forensics teams are examining the body in the forest to search for evidence of who may have done this,” Rosenfeld told reporters.
Some speculated on Facebook that the youth may have been killed for impugning family honor or over intra-family rivalries.
A retired local police official familiar with the family in question told Israel National News that “it’s a problematic family with internal clashes that have been ongoing for many years.
“I have no doubt that as time passes it will be clarified that the murder was criminal and nothing more,” he said.
The youth’s family called police when an eyewitness reported seeing several individuals force the youth into a vehicle near adjacent Beit Hanina, while on his way to morning prayers at a local mosque.
Later in the day, rioters hurled several pipe bombs, fire bombs and stones at police, Israel Radio said; rioters also torched ticket machines at at least two light rail stops which pass through the neighborhood.
CityPass, which operates the system, cut train service to the affected area.
An Israeli photographer was hit by a rubber bullet in the clashes. Downtown, police arrested an Arab who reportedly attacked a light rail security officer.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch to get to the bottom of the killing, asking that “law-enforcement elements work as quickly as possible in order to investigate who is behind the reprehensible murder and what the motive was.”
Netanyahu called “on all sides not to take the law into their own hands,” adding that “Israel is a nation of laws and everyone must act according to the law,” in a statement released by his office Wednesday.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also “strongly” condemned the murder, terming it “a horrible and barbaric act.”
“This is not our way and I am fully confident that our security forces will bring the perpetrators to justice,” Barkat said, and called on all sides “to exercise restraint.”
Palestinian Authority Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina, on Wednesday directly blamed Israel for the Palestinian youth’s death.
“Israel is fully responsible for the killing of the teenager and we demand that the perpetrators be found and held accountable,” he said.