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170 Palestinians injured in East Jerusalem clashes

July 2, 2014 4:07 P.M. (Updated: July 4, 2014 4:33 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Over 170 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday following the kidnapping and killing of a 16-year-old Palestinian from the Shufat neighborhood, medics said.

Red Crescent medics said 170 Palestinians were injured in the clashes, including three with live bullets.

At least 35 people were injured by rubber bullets, including six journalists, and three people suffered fractures after being assaulted by Israeli police officers.

Palestine TV reporter Kristine Rinawi and cameramen Ali Yasin and Ahmad Gharabla were among those reported injured.

Rajih al-Hawarin, a Red Crescent paramedic, told Ma'an that soldiers were firing tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades, and live fire at protesters.

Clashes broke out early Wednesday as Palestinians took to the streets to protest the kidnapping and killing of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir.

Eyewitnesses told AFP 16-year-old Muhammed was seen being forced into a car by three Israelis in East Jerusalem.

Shortly after dawn, crowds of angry Palestinians began gathering outside the teenager's home in Shufat, with clashes erupting around 8:00 a.m.

Clouds of black smoke rose into the summer sky as hundreds of masked Palestinians faced off with Israeli police in riot gear.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld wrote on Twitter: "Extra police units deployed in Jerusalem to deal with disturbances in the Bet Hanina area. Damage caused to light rail station by rioters."

As the clashes raged in Shufat, where the streets were littered with burning dumpsters and makeshift barricades, the only place of relative calm was the family home, an AFP correspondent said.

Wearing a blue headscarf, 40-year-old Suha Abu Khder, mother of the missing teen, sat in stunned silence, sometimes breaking down in tears in a room filled with relatives and friends.

Ansam Abu Khder, one of the teenager's cousins, said witnesses had written down the car's license plate and that police were examining CCTV footage.

"We knew about Mohammed's kidnapping by three Israelis just before the dawn prayers. A witness saw them and took down the license plate," he told AFP.

DNA tests proved the body was that of the missing teenager, his father said.

"The body belongs to my son," Hussein Abu Khder told AFP, saying his identity had been confirmed through tests but the cause of death was not immediately clear.

Israeli police had earlier summoned Abu Khdeir's father for questioning at the Russian Compound center in West Jerusalem, relatives said.

The family denied allegations that the boy could have been killed in a family dispute, citing eyewitnesses as saying they tried to stop the kidnapping but the suspects took Abu Khdeir and fled the scene.

The families of the three murdered Israeli teenagers issued a statement condemning the incident.

"If the Arab youth was murdered because of nationalistic motives then this is a horrible and horrendous act," it said.

"There is no difference between Arab blood and Jewish blood. Murder is murder. There is no forgiveness or justification for any murder."

In a separate development, suspected Jewish extremists set fire to the ground floor of a house in the West Bank village of Aqraba near Nablus, police said.

On the walls was Hebrew graffiti reading "Revenge of the Jews" and "Mohammed is dead" in reference to the Muslim prophet.

AFP contributed to this report.
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