Palestinians protest one year after teenager burnt to death

2015-07-02 20:58
An Israeli border policeman uses pepper spray to disperse demonstrators. (Majdi Mohammed, AP)

An Israeli border policeman uses pepper spray to disperse demonstrators. (Majdi Mohammed, AP)

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Jerusalem - Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in east Jerusalem on Thursday to commemorate the first anniversary of a teenager being burned to death in an Israeli revenge attack in the run-up to the Gaza war.

Mohammed Abu Khder, 16, was abducted and killed on July 2 2014, weeks after the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.

Those incidents were part of a spiral of violence that led to a 50-day war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas that killed more than 2 200 people, making 2014 the bloodiest year of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to the UN.

Protesters in the streets of Abu Khder's Shuafat neighbourhood waved Palestinian flags and held up posters and images of the boy in a beige baseball cap, an AFP correspondent said.

"Mohammed Abu Khder, July 2 2014: They kidnapped, tortured and burned you. Be a witness to their crimes," banners read.

Israeli riot police and vehicles were deployed in force in Shuafat, the scene of riots following the murder.

Abu Khder was kidnapped from Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem and his burned body was found hours later in a forest in the western part of the city.

Three Israelis were eventually charged with the killing, saying it was in revenge for the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.

They are currently on trial in Jerusalem.

The boy's father, Hussein Abu Khder, told AFP on Thursday he wanted to see them put away for life.

"We've been through a really hard time. They burned him alive, and we burn inside now," he said.

"His mother cries just at the mention of his name. I'm trying to be strong in front of my children, who've been traumatised by the death of their brother," he said.

"The most important thing is that justice is pursued for my son. I want his killers to spend the rest of their lives behind bars, with no pardon."

The June 2014 abduction of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach from a hitchhiking stop near Hebron sparked a vast Israeli search operation in which hundreds of Palestinians were arrested and at least five killed.

Israel immediately blamed the kidnappings on militants of Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls Gaza, rounding up hundreds of suspected members in the West Bank.

The brutal revenge killing of Abu Khder was followed by an uptick in rocket fire from Gaza, and the launch on July 8 of a full-scale Israeli military operation against the Mediterranean enclave.

Read more on:    palestine  |  israel  |  gaza war

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