Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on law enforcement to find the perpetrators and motives of the "reprehensible" murder of a 16-year-old Arab boy whose lifeless body was found in Jerusalem on July 2. Teenaged Mohammed Abu Khdeir is believed to have been abducted from the Beit Hanina area on the evening of July 1. Hundreds of Arabs rioted upon hearing the news after concluding that the murder was retribution for the murder of three Israeli Jewish teens whose bodies were uncovered on June 30 by Israeli security forces in the West Bank area. Netanyahu sought to minimize the resulting tensions and called on all parties to not take the law into their own hands. He reiterated that Israel is "a nation of laws and everyone must act according to the law."
(Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir)
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority called on Netanyahu to condemn the killing of the Arab youth. As in other instances, Abbas blamed Israel for tensions in the region. He also called for "real action" to prevent attacks by Israeli Jewish settlers.
Israeli National Police Commissioner Yochanan Danino said authorities will not allow civilians to take the law into their own hands. Police are taking precautions throughout the country and especially in areas such as the Northern and Coastal districts where there have been flashpoints for violence between Jews and non-Jews. However, police in Tel Aviv Police have not taken any special measures or that they expect any incidents in the Jaffa-Bat Yam area, where violent clashes have occured in the past.
Rioting has spread from the Shuafat area to the Temple Mount, where masked Arab rioters chucked rocks at police officers. The Temple Mount has since been closed to visitors and the entrance into Jerusalem from Highway 443 at the Ben Tzion Interchange was also shut down. Three light rail stations were destroyed by rioters, while there are reports that Jewish homes and cars were assaulted in the Pisgat Ze'ev area. Israel National News reported that three pipe bombs were tossed by rioters at police. One of these exploded. However, police are seeking to neutralize the remaining two explosive devices. No police officers were injured but a civilian has since been hospitalized because of the blast. Rioting has continued into the afternoon hours as rioters continue to throw stones, gasoline bombs, and yet another pipe bomb. Police have blocked entry into Beit Hanina.
Latin Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal expressed his condemnation of revenge. In a statement, the churchman said, "It is not worthy of political and religious leaders to support, feed, foment revenge. Revenge calls for revenge, blood calls for blood. And innocent people who are killed, all the children killed, are victims sacrificed on the diabolical altars of hatred. We pray for the parents and families of all these young people kidnapped and killed."
"The visit of Pope Francis in the Holy Land and then the prayer meeting held in the Vatican", said the Patriarch, "had fueled so many happy hopes for peace. Now, with the sacrifice of innocent young people, the cycle of violence in which we live seems to reassert its dominance with even greater ferocity. It almost seems like a reaction to stave off the hopes that had been aroused. For this we must continue to pray, to ask for the miracle of peace. Peace and forgiveness are good for everyone."
On the evening of July 1, hundreds of extremist Israeli settlers crossed the center of Jerusalem expressing their anger after the killing of the three Jewish boys who had been abducted on June 12. On the morning of July 2, hundreds of Arabs clashed with police in Beit Hanina and Shuffat. Said Patriarch Twal, "There is a nation that has lived for years in mourning", according to the Fides news agency, "and it is necessary to stop the perverse logic of those who discriminate among the innocent victims on one side and the other, and believe that their pain can be relieved from the pain of others. Only forgiveness calls for forgiveness".
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