An eight-year-old boy who went missing in East Jerusalem Friday afternoon was found dead in a large pool of rainwater Saturday morning after long hours of search efforts.
Qais Abu Ramila had apparently slipped into and drowned in the pond, formed after days of rain in the city’s Beit Hanina neighborhood, police sources said.
The boy was found when search and rescue forces searched the pool overnight.
Police said “efforts at the rainwater reservoir lasted throughout the night… Unfortunately the boy was found lifeless, and Magen David Adom [paramedics] were forced to declare him dead.”
Abu Ramila had last been seen at around 4:00 p.m. before vanishing.
Authorities had focused their search on the 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.
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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.
After his body was found, his father castigated the Jerusalem municipality for not sealing off the area around the pond.
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.
Some 12 demonstrators were lightly injured in scuffles with police and officers arrested three of the protesters for disturbing public order.
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 had 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.”