Israeli police found a body in a Jerusalem forest Wednesday following reports that a Palestinian teenager was forced into a car, setting off clashes in Jerusalem over what Palestinians said was a revenge killing for the three abducted Israeli teens whose bodies were found this week.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for an immediate investigation to find out who was behind the “abominable murder” and urged citizens not to take the law into their own hands.
“Israel is a state of law and everyone is obligated to act in accordance with the law,” Netanyahu said.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged Israeli security forces to investigate quickly but also held out a political threat.
“Israel bears full responsibility for this incident,” Abbas said in a statement. “The Israeli police and security forces must bring those responsible to justice. The Palestinian leadership will continue its discussions following this escalation, including joining international organizations.”
Palestinian residents in the Shuafat neighborhood of east Jerusalem told Reuters that they saw a teenager being forced into a car outside a supermarket in the early hours of Wednesday, and identified him as 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudair.
An unnamed Israeli security source told Reuters that Israeli investigators suspect that the teen was kidnapped and murdered, possibly in retaliation for the murders of the three Israeli teens.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the Associated Press that while the boy’s death may have been a revenge killing, police were not ruling out a criminal motive.
Haaretz reported that the family “vehemently” denied rumors the teen may have been abducted over a family feud, saying they aren’t engaged in a feud.
The discovery of the body sparked riots between Palestinians and Israeli security forces. The Times of Israel reported that three explosive devices were thrown at police, along with rocks and other objects.
Hundreds of Palestinians gathered near the home of the Palestinian teenager when they learned of his disappearance.
The boy’s uncle, Mahmoud, told the Times of Israel that witnesses saw men who they believed were Israeli force the teen into a grey Hyundai at 4 a.m. Wednesday. He said bystanders tried to chase the car.
Ynet reported that “the body was charred and showed signs of violence.”
Muslims are currently celebrating the month of Ramadan during which they stay up late and rise early, because they are prohibited from eating and drinking during hours of sunlight.
The uncle said there was “no doubt in his mind” that his nephew was kidnapped and murdered in revenge for the Israeli teen killings.
The uncle of slain Israeli teen Naftali Frenkel said, “There is no difference between blood and blood.”
“A murderer is a murderer, no matter his nationality and age. There is no justification, no forgiveness and no atonement for any murder,” Yishai Frenkel said. “If an Arab youth was indeed murdered for nationalistic reasons, this is a heinous and shocking act.”
Israeli police were bracing for more trouble and as a precaution closed the entrance to the Temple Mount, a traditional focal point of violence between Israeli police and Palestinians.