A tense calm descended upon the capital Friday evening after a day of heavy rioting and emotionally charged demonstrations, as an Arab teenager allegedly murdered by Jews was laid to rest in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat.
Sporadic rock-throwing incidents were still taking place from time to time in the hours after the funeral, with police using tear gas to disperse the violent demonstrations.
Around 35 Palestinians and 13 police officers were said to have been lightly wounded during the day’s events.
Thousands of Palestinians, some firing weapons into the air, attended the funeral of Muhammed Abu Khdeir, whose burned body was found in a Jerusalem forest Wednesday morning in a killing blamed by the Palestinians on Israel. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the murder; police investigators increasingly believe Abu Khdeir was murdered by Jewish terrorists in revenge for three Israeli teenagers kidnapped and murdered on June 12, but there has been definitive declaration to this effect.
Chanting “with our blood and our spirit we shall sacrifice for the martyr,” mourners carried the shrouded body of Abu Khdeir, 16, through Shuafat as flag-waving crowds thronged the narrow streets, before he was buried in a local cemetery.
“I hope your death brings victory to Palestine,” Abu Khdeir’s mother, Suha, said as her son was laid to rest. “May God burn the criminals who burned my son. I do not wish for any family to experience the sorrows that have come upon us.”
The teenager’s funeral coincided with the first Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. As it took place, riots broke out in several locations throughout the capital, with hundreds of Arab youths hurling stones and makeshift Molotov cocktails at police officers. Masked protesters hurled rocks at police near the site of the funeral as well. Police blocked all the roads leading from East Jerusalem neighborhood’s to the city’s western half for several hours.
In anticipation of unrest Friday, Border Police in the city had increased their preparedness in Jerusalem, bringing in reinforcements, and limiting access to the Temple Mount to Muslim men 50 years and over, as well as all women.
Just 8,000 worshipers joined the weekly prayers there, police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP. Many apparently stayed away fearing clashes with police. On the same day last year police reported a crowd of 80,000.
The police precautions came after two days of clashes between East Jerusalem residents and Border Police officers as tensions escalated sharply surrounding Israeli calls for revenge against Arabs for the killing of the three teens.
Earlier Friday, clashes broke out between Arab youths and police around the Temple Mount complex. Blasts from stun grenades were heard from the site of the turmoil, as dozens of demonstrators tried to breach a police barrier at an entrance to the compound.
Clashes also broke out in the Ras-al-Amoud neighborhood on the Mount of Olives.
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinians reportedly hurled stones at IDF soldiers in three different locations. IDF troops responded both with live fire and rubber bullets, according to Haaretz. Eight Palestinians were reported injured during the clashes, including one who was shot with live ammunition, the IDF said.
Abu Khdeir’s body was transferred to his family midday Friday after undergoing an autopsy at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv. The procedure had been postponed for hours on Thursday because a Palestinian pathologist from Hebron, who was to take part in the autopsy, was held up by the IDF closure of the city, Haaretz reported. It was pushed off further due to complications with the paperwork.
Police officials told The Times of Israel they were continuing to investigate whether Abu Khdeir was murdered in a family honor killing, or if it was a nationalistically motivated slaying. According to officials familiar with the case, investigators increasingly view the killing as a revenge attack perpetrated by Jewish terrorists.
On Thursday, Arab and Jewish rioters clashed in the Arab neighborhood of Silwan, outside Jerusalem’s Old City, on Thursday afternoon. Arab rioters punctured the tires of several cars parked in the City of David archaeological complex, possibly while their owners were praying at the Western Wall. Jewish rioters hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks at houses in the Silwan neighborhood, next to the archaeological complex.
Earlier Thursday, in the Shuafat neighborhood, dozens of Arabs blocked roads with dumpsters and hurled rocks. Police responded with riot-control munitions.
Yifa Yaakov and Lazar Berman contributed to this report.