Tensions continued to heighten in Jerusalem Saturday, after an autopsy revealed that the abducted Palestinian teen Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir was burned alive and beaten up before being buried in the Jerusalem Forest. The news comes a day after the East Jerusalem resident was buried in a funeral that drew thousands, and only a few hours after videos of his American cousin being beaten up by Israeli police began to circulate on social media.
“It was obvious through autopsy that there was black smoke on the breathing airways, windpipes and in the two lungs,” the attorney general for Palestine, Mohammed al-A’wewy, wrote on his agency’s official website.“This is proof of inhalation of this material during the torch, while he was alive.” The young Palestinian is believed to have been abducted by Israeli extremists in revenge for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens, whose bodies were discovered in a grave on Monday.
The Palestinian 16-year-old's death has sparked demonstrations since Wednesday, seeing some of the worst violence to hit Jerusalem in over a decade. The Palestinian East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shu'fat — where Abu Khdeir was grabbed, forced into a gray Hyundai and taken away at 3:45 a.m. on Wednesday — has been particularly volatile. Soon after multiple checkpoints were erected by Israeli security, clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli police reportedly resulted in the use of tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets — one CNN reporter, Ben Wedemen, was injured by an Israeli rubber bullet while reporting the scene.
Palestinian news agencies and human rights groups report hundreds of Palestinian injuries over the last three days, with local hospitals calling for blood donations and volunteers to help with the dire situation.
In spite of calls for calm from authorities on both sides of the divide, multiple reports of Palestinians being targeted have furthered the escalating situation. Most recently, a video of the murdered teen's cousin, American-born 15-year-old Tariq Khdeir, being brutally beaten by undercover Israeli police officers, has taken social media by storm. In the video, the teen — who was visiting Jerusalem from his home in Tampa, Florida — is repeatedly punched by three Israeli police officers in riot gear. Tariq Abu Khdeir's mother has called it an “attempted murder," according to ABC News.
Earlier this week, Israeli news agency Haaretz reported that a new Facebook group had gained over 35,000 members in only two days, many of them part of the Israeli army. The name of the group? 'The people of Israel demand revenge.'