During intense clashes in east Jerusalem, a group of about a dozen Palestinians reportedly mistook two Palestinian men as undercover Israeli cops and proceeded to pummel them mercilessly, with one of the incidents caught on video.
The clashes erupted on Wednesday after the body of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudair was found by Israeli police on the side of the road that runs through the Jerusalem Forest.
In a video posted online by the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds, about a dozen Palestinian men were seen taking turns kicking a Palestinian man, who was on the ground and unable to get away. With smoke and the sound of tear gas canisters fired in the background, Israeli police ran to the man’s rescue.
The Jerusalem Post identified one of the men who was attacked as Yousef Badriyyeh, 40, who works in a law firm. Badriyyeh told the Post that he was simply standing in the area on his own when youths attacked him thinking he was an undercover Israeli police officer. After being rescued by Israeli police, he was taken to the hospital for treatment.
The Jerusalem Post identified the second victim of the mob attack as a Palestinian journalist who was covering the clashes.
The news of the Palestinian teenager’s killing fueled protests immediately in east Jerusalem, as Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli police, who responded with tear gas. The beating of the Palestinian men occurred in the middle of the protest in the Shuafat neighborhood of east Jerusalem.
Condemnation of the Palestinian teenager’s murder came swiftly from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Secretary of State John Kerry.
While Palestinians insisted that the boy had been killed in revenge for the killing of three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped June 12 and whose bodies were discovered on Monday in the West Bank, Israeli investigators have not ruled out a criminal motive for the killing of the Palestinian youth.
“Police investigation continuing in order to determine if the incident in Jerusalem this morning is criminal or nationalistic,” Israel’s police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld wrote on Twitter.
Palestinian residents in the Shuafat neighborhood of east Jerusalem told Reuters that they saw a teenager being forced into a car outside a supermarket at about 4 a.m. Wednesday morning.