Dozens of Palestinians killed, foreign journalists wounded as clashes continue
At least 65 people were injured Wednesday in clashes with Israeli troops on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, the Red Cross said.
Palestinian medical sources claimed that more than 70 people had been injured and that Israeli soldiers used live bullets, although this has not been independently confirmed. Rubber bullets, however, were used and injured 35 people. Six journalists were among the wounded, the Red Cross said.
Correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin and his NBC news team were fired on with rubber bullets, despite wearing protective gear labelled "press.” An NBC cameraman was bruised by shrapnel, while Tali Mayer, a photographer with Active Stills, was also seriously injured and shot in the face.
Riots broke out in the Shuafat district, after the body of a Palestinian teen was discovered in what appeared to be a revenge killing.
Tensions have reached alarming levels since the bodies of three Israeli settler teens were discovered in a shallow grave outside Hebron on Monday night. The trio went missing earlier this month, while hitchhiking near the Gush Etzion settlement block in the West Bank.
The slain 16 year-old Palestinian teen, Mohamed Hussien Abu Khdeer, went missing around 3 am from the Shuafat district, just northeast of Jerusalem. He was reportedly picked up by a brown vehicle as he stepped out briefly from a mosque before morning prayers. His body was later found in a nearby forest.
Map showing where Palestinian and Israeli teens were killed
The riots came a day after some 200 Israelis staged protests throughout Jerusalem on Tuesday evening, stopping cars and the light rail and shouting "Death to Arabs," police and witnesses said.
The international community has strongly commended Khdeer’s killing.
"There are no words to convey adequately our condolences to the Palestinian people," US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. "At this tense and dangerous moment all parties must do everything to protect the innocent."
UK foreign secretary William Hague also slammed the killing as "appalling” and urged all sides to show restraint.
Israeli - Palestinian reactions
Israeli reactions to the latest developments have been mixed. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to investigate the incident and called it a “heinous murder.”
"Israel is a state of law, and everyone is obligated to act in accordance with the law," he said.
Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog also told reporters that while extremists on both the Israeli and Palestinian side are striving to spark a cycle of violence, the majority of Jews and Arabs want to live in peace.
Rockets, however, continued to fly with Israel’s defence shield intercepting missiles from Gaza, while Israel continued to launch more aerial attacks on the Strip, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. According to Turkish Anadolu Agency, there was also Israeli artillery fire near Rafah in southern Gaza, although no casualties were reported.
Khaled Meshal, head of Hamas’political office, has now also reportedly sent a message to Ankara, requesting that Turkey step in to prevent further Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Israeli news site, CNG, reports that Meshal, in a message sent to Turkey on Wednesday, confirmed that Hamas has no link to the abduction of three Israeli settler teens.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed Hamas for the deaths, and has waged a widespread and controversial security crackdown known as Brother’s Keeper.
During the weeks-long operation, more than 2,100 Palestinian-owned buildings were searched and several homes were destroyed with Israeli rocket fire. At least 566 Palestinians were arrested and six Palestinians killed, before the bodies of the three settlers were discovered.