Middle East

Palestinian Teen's Death Dredges Fears Of Reciprocal Violence

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Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians are as high as they have been in years, following the killings of three Israeli teens and the death of a young Palestinian.


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block. Tensions are high in Jerusalem. Yesterday, Israel buried three teenagers killed in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The country vowed action against the militant group Hamas. Hours later, the body of a Palestinian teen was found in Jerusalem. The Obama administration has condemned the murders. We're going to get a view from Gaza on the increasing tensions, but first Daniel Estrin has this report from Jerusalem.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Early this morning, police said they received reports that a Palestinian teenager was forced into a vehicle in East Jerusalem. Police began searches, and an hour later, a body was found dumped in a Jerusalem forest. That sparked riots. Masked Palestinian youth hurled stones at Israeli police in front of the mosque where the teen's family says he was kidnapped. Police responded with stun grenades. At one point, a few masked Palestinians used a pickaxe to smash a train stop in front of the mosque. Then they set it on fire. Hundreds of Palestinians gathered around and cheered.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

ESTRIN: Palestinians say the killed teen was 17-year-old Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir. His cousin, Walid Abu Khdeir, said the teen's father identified his body. He described him as talented and studying to be an electrician.

WALID ABU KHDEIR: (Foreign language spoken).

ESTRIN: He said, his life was still ahead of him, and here in one minute, extremists who hate Arabs, who hate peace came in and cut short his whole life. Police say they are investigating the motive and searching for suspects. But Abu Khdeir accused Jewish settlers of carrying out the kidnapping and killing to avenge the three kidnapped Israeli teens who were found dead this week. There have been lots of calls for vengeance over the last two days. Hundreds of Israeli ultranationalist demonstrators marched through the streets of Jerusalem screaming, death to Arabs. Police say they escorted the demonstrators, but arrested 47 of them. There were also a number of attacks on Palestinians in the city. One Israeli pepper-sprayed a Palestinian on the city train.

ANWAR ABBASI: (Foreign language spoken).

ESTRIN: Anwar Abbasi is a taxi driver I rode with today. He said a group of Israelis tried to enter his taxi and banged on the car, screaming an epithet against Arabs. He said he and other Palestinian colleagues stayed at home yesterday for fear of more attacks. It was just a few months ago that U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed. Israeli political analyst Yaron Ezrahi says the situation now is particularly grave.

YARON EZRAHI: For many years, we haven't seen such a multiplicity of violent acts, of calls for revenge. All this was perfectly expected. Because the talks failed, we are seeing the explosion of violence, which fills the vacuum emptied by hope of the settlement.

ESTRIN: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas demanded that Israel hold the killers accountable. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the murder reprehensible, and urged people not to take the law into their own hands. And Israelis gathered in downtown Jerusalem calling for an end to violence. For NPR News, I'm Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem.

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