Police continue search for missing 8-year-old after clashes break out overnight

Family reportedly claims Qais Abu Ramila was kidnapped before reversing claim; Beit Hanina residents try to enter Jewish neighborhood in search, are stopped by police

A view of Beit Hanina (CC BY-SA Yaakov/Wikimedia Commons)
A view of Beit Hanina (CC BY-SA Yaakov/Wikimedia Commons)

Israeli police continued searches on Saturday morning for an 8-year-old boy who went missing in East Jerusalem on Friday afternoon.

Qais Abu Ramila, from the city’s Beit Hanina neighborhood, was last seen there around 4:00 p.m. before vanishing.

Police asked the public to assist in locating the boy and hundreds of volunteers joined in the search as authorities investigated all possibilities in the disappearance.

His family initially said he was kidnapped while going to a convenience store, but later reversed that claim, according to the Haaretz daily.

Clashes broke out overnight after Beit Hanina residents searching for Abu Ramila tried to enter the nearby Jewish neighborhood of Neve Yaakov, believing residents there had kidnapped the boy. Residents were blocked from entering the neighborhood and some of the demonstrators threw rocks at police.

“Police forces are working at the Neve Yaakov-Beit Hanina junction to restore public order, after several dozen area residents started throwing rocks at police officers and disturbing public order,” police said in a statement.

Some 12 demonstrators were lightly injured in scuffles with police and officers arrested three of the protesters for disturbing public order.

Officers had been focusing their search on a pool of water near Beit Hanina after tracking dogs picked up Abu Ramila’s scent in the area, speculating that he may have fallen in. Video footage from the scene showed first responders wading through the body of water with searchlights.

Rescuers had reportedly given up on searching in the water by Saturday morning, however.

The boy’s father was questioned by police, and authorities carried out background checks on family members as part of routine investigation procedures.

Relatives of Abu Ramila issued security footage they said showed the boy being kidnapped, but his immediate family and police said that the video had no connection to the case.

MK Ahmad Tibi of the Joint List Alliance of Arab-majority parties joined in the search effort.

“The situation is worrying,” Tibi said. “I hope that all the suspicions are proven false and that we and the police find the boy alive and well. We need to let the rescue forces do their job and search for the boy everywhere.”

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