Jerusalem Is Roiled By Violence In A Third Day Of Clashes
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
There was a third straight day of clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem today. The violence comes as Palestinians buried a teenage boy who had been kidnapped and found dead in a forest. Police are still investigating but Palestinians believe that the boy's killing was a revenge attack after three Israeli teens were abducted and killed. A crime Israel blames on Hamas. Daniel Estrin reports from Jerusalem.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: At today's funeral of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir some Palestinians cheered - rise up, rise up, intifada - a call for an uprising. At least a couple thousand people joined the funeral. Demonstrators threw rocks and launched fireworks at Israeli forces who fired back with stun grenades. They were reportedly at least a couple dozen Palestinians and a dozen police injured. Meanwhile, at least 14 rockets or mortars were fired from the Gaza Strip but didn't injure anyone, according to Israel. Which said it responded with airstrikes. There's been sustained rocket fire this week and Israel has been bombing targets repeatedly and increasing troops on the border with Gaza.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: Foreign language spoken.
ESTRIN: Last night at the Fourth of July reception at the U.S. ambassador's residence near Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would cease hostilities if the rocket fire ended. If not, he said, quote, "the reinforcement forces that are located in the field will act forcefully. The security of our citizens comes first." The Israeli army says the militant group Hamas has been firing longer-range rockets toward Israel in recent days. But Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner says the Army has no interest in a war in Gaza.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL PETER LERNER: We're trying to de-escalate the situation. We do not want deeper involvement or increased violence on the border and across the border.
ESTRIN: Yesterday an anonymous masked spokesman from Hamas' militant wing stood before television cameras next to a masked man holding a rifle.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: Foreign-language spoken.
ESTRIN: He said Hamas fighters had surprises in store for the Israeli enemy if it started a war. The Hamas official said this week's group's leaders have not been venturing out of their homes for fear of being targeted in an Israeli air strike. And some say Hamas doesn't really want to fight in Gaza but Mitch Ginsberg, military correspondent for the Times of Israel, says Hamas may be trying to provoke unrest in the West Bank - which is ruled by the rival faction Fatah.
MITCH GINSBERG: I think Hamas was, to an extent, thrown a lifeline by this terrible murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. And I think that what Hamas has sought for a very long, time perhaps since they rose to power in Gaza in 2007, is to ignite the West Bank.
ESTRIN: Some of the mourners at the funeral for the Palestinian youth waved green Hamas flags. But Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas from the Fatah faction has opposed a violent uprising. And his troops security coordination has helped keep the Israeli-occupied West Bank relatively quiet. Palestinian support for that security coordination is low. Abbas is also trying to maintain a new unity government formed by Fatah and Hamas - which Israel insists he break up. For NPR News, I'm Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem.
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