Israeli forces deploy in Jerusalem for funeral of Palestinian teen
Published Friday 04/07/2014 (updated) 04/07/2014 15:02
An Israeli soldier stands guard at the Qalandia checkpoint
between Ramallah and Jerusalem, in the occupied West Bank,
on July 4, 2014.(AFP/Abbas Momani)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli police flooded East Jerusalem ahead of the funeral of a murdered Palestinian teenager and the first Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16, who was kidnapped and found dead on Wednesday, was to be buried in East Jerusalem's Shufat neighborhood after the midday prayers, with tensions running high after two straight days of violence.
Israeli commanders meanwhile waited to see if a series of statements by Israeli leaders promising to "meet quiet with quiet" would bring a halt to the latest flare-up of violence on the Gaza border.
Media reports spoke of a possible truce in the making after a week of militant rocket fire into southern Israel and retaliatory air strikes against Gaza.
There were no official statements from Israel or its Hamas foe in Gaza and the army reported that four rockets were fired at Israel on Friday morning, with one intercepted by the Iron Dome air defence system and at least two hitting open ground.
An Israeli police statement said that "thousands of police were deployed this morning in East Jerusalem in order to maintain security."
Tens of thousands of worshipers were expected to head for the Al-Aqsa mosque complex for the main weekly prayers on the first Friday of Ramadan.
Israeli Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that following a late-night situation assessment, police commanders decided to limit access by men to the complex to those over 50 years of age. There were no restrictions on women, he said.
After the prayers, Abu Khdeir's funeral was to be held in Shufat, a day later than originally planned after his body was held so that pathologists could complete a post-mortem.
Many believe he was killed in revenge for the abduction and murder in the occupied West Bank last month of three Israeli teenagers whose bodies were found on Monday.
Israeli police say the motive for Abu Khder's killing is still unclear, and have not said how he died.
In Shufat and other parts of Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, Palestinians clashed with police for a second straight day on Thursday, hurling rocks and fireworks at Israeli police and burning tires.
Over 170 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces during clashes in Shufat on Wednesday, medics said.
Ma'an staff contributed to this report