Weekend Wrap-up |

Police Arrests 20 Protesters as Riots Spread to Arab Towns

Autopsy results show Palestinian teen was burned alive last week; Palestinians say he was killed by Israeli extremists as revenge for kidnapped Israeli teens.

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Israeli riot police during clashes with protesters in the Arab Israeli city of Ar'ara, July 5, 2014.
Israeli riot police during clashes with protesters in the Arab Israeli city of Ar'ara, July 5, 2014.Credit: AFP

An autopsy on Saturday reportedly revealed that Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir was burned to death last Wednesday. Palestinians say Israeli extremists killed the boy in a revenge attack for the killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank last month, and clashes spread from Jerusalem into Arab Israeli towns over the weekend.

Rioting erupted in several northern Israeli towns on Friday night and started again Saturday evening, but at a lower intensity. Dozens of protesters, many with their faces masked, set fire to tires on the main road into Kalansua. The road between Kalansua and Taibeh was closed in both directions Saturday, and other roads in the north were closed intermittently as police clashed with demonstrators.

In the south, rockets fired from the Gaza Strip set fields alight in the Eshkol regional council area.

The preliminary autopsy report on the body of Abu Khdeir shows he had a head injury but died by burning, according to Palestinian Attorney General Muhammad Abd al-Ghani Uweili.

The boy, whose body was found in a Jerusalem forest on Wednesday morning, suffered burns on “90 percent of his body … The results show he was breathing while on fire and died from burns and their consequences,” Uweili said.

The Palestinian independent news agency Ma’an quoted Uweili as saying that a preliminary autopsy, performed in Israel’s Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine, showed soot in the victim’s lungs and respiratory tract, indicating he was alive and breathing while he was being burnt.

Israeli police say the circumstances behind Abu Khdeir’s killing remain unclear, but Palestinians believe he was kidnapped and killed by right-wing Israelis. The attack took place the night after abducted Israeli teens Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel were buried.

The autopsy also showed that Abu Khdeir had a blunt force injury on the right side of his head, but he died from complications as a result of being burnt, Uweili said. A final autopsy will be released later, he said.

The autopsy was conducted in the presence of Palestinian coroner Dr. Sabir al-Aloul, the director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Al Quds University. Tissue and fluid samples were taken from the body for testing.

Palestinians took to the streets in protests after news of the boy’s death on Wednesday and clashed with police in East Jerusalem. Riots erupted in East Jerusalem Friday as thousands of Palestinians massed for the boy’s burial.

The violence spread to Arab towns in northern Israel early Saturday morning, with protesters throwing rocks at passing cars, burning tires and lobbing rocks and firebombs at police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. Seven demonstrators were lightly hurt, an Israeli police spokeswoman said.

Near the town of Kalansua, protesters also pulled over a car driven by an Israeli Jew, dragged him out and set the vehicle on fire, the spokeswoman said. The driver was not injured.

More than 20 people were arrested before the unrest subsided in the afternoon, she said.

The Sharon Police decided to close the market plaza in the town of Tira – a popular commercial site for Jews – Saturday, for fear of disturbances.

Tira mayor Mamoun Abdel al-Hai said Saturday, “You can’t blame only the Arab citizens for disturbances, you must condemn the incitement conducted against them and the attempts of far-right elements to inflame the situation with racist calls, calls for revenge or to attack mosques and property.”

He called on the town’s residents to act with restraint and urged the authorities to arrest the inciters.

In the south, meanwhile, Gaza militants fired at least 12 rockets and 11 mortar shells at Israel Saturday. A soldier suffered light shrapnel injuries from a mortar shell, in the Eshkol area, and damage was also caused to infrastructure. An Iron Dome missile defense battery downed three rockets that were fired at Netivot and Ofakim, the military said.

The Israel Defense Forces said it had launched five air strikes in Gaza overnight against seven sites, six of them identified with Hamas.

An IDF force opened fire at two Palestinians who approached the border fence in the central Gaza Strip. Military forces said the two intended to place an explosive near the fence.

In Be’er Sheva, former Military Intelligence head Amos Yadlin told a public meeting “there is no doubt” that Israel is headed for another round of fighting with Hamas. He said Hamas will be beaten, “but Israel will pay a price – in the economy and in human lives.”

Over the weekend, Egypt tried to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Israel did not comment on this, but a defense official said a truce would be possible only if the Gaza militants stopped firing at Israel.

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