Police on High Alert in Jerusalem Ahead of Teen's Funeral
Police presence in Jerusalem has escalated considerably Friday, after 48 hours of raging riots and spiralling unrest in Arab neighborhoods of the Holy City.
The police announced that thousands of officers have been deployed to the eastern part of the city and the Old City since the morning hours so as to maintain public order.
An advance command room and mobile command room have been established, with Jerusalem district police chief Yossi Pariente supervising operations from the mobile command room.
Among other things, police have decided to limit the access of Muslim worshipers to the Temple Mount Friday, and to allow only men over the age of 50 with Israeli citizenship to enter the compound. No limits on entry will be imposed on women.
Several police units will also be on high alert Friday afternoon, ahead of the expected funeral of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khder, who was found in the Jerusalem Forest Wednesday after allegedly being forced into a black car outside the neighborhood of Beit Hanina. Abu Khder's body was autopsied on Thursday night and his body has been returned to his family for burial in Shuafat.
Friday also marks the first Friday, or Muslim day of rest, of the month-long fast of Ramadan.
Bombs, rockets, violence
Rioting in Jerusalem has been worsening throughout the week, after rumors circulated that Abu-Khder's murder was the work of Jewish extremists looking for "revenge" over the abduction and murder of three Israeli teens Naftali Frenkel (16), Gilad Sha'ar (16) and Eyal Yifrah (19). Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, as well as some in the international media, have since repeated those claims as fact.
Israeli leaders - including the mayor of Jerusalem and Prime Minister Netanyahu - rushed to condemn the murder, despite the lack of clear evidence suggesting that the murder was an act of nationalistic revenge.
Several reports indicate the abduction was in fact carried out by Arabs as an "honor killing" or another kind of criminal murder, including conflicting testimonies from the boy's own parents about an alleged abduction reported the night before the murder, in which his mother said the assailants were Jews, while the father insisted they were Arabs.
Nevertheless, the Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat has since become a flashpoint for chaos and violence.
Wednesday and Thursday, rioters threw pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails, and rocks at Israeli forces and the press and shouted anti-Semitic chants; three Jerusalem Light Rail stations were burnt down as well.