JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Scores of Palestinians rioted in East Jerusalem on Sunday after hearing that a youth from their neighbourhood had died of wounds suffered in a clash with Israeli police last week.
Protesters in the neighbourhood of Wadi al-Joz close to the walled Old City threw rocks, petrol bombs and flares at passing cars, and riot officers responded with rubber bullets during an afternoon of clashes that lasted for several hours. There were no reports of serious injury.
Mohammed Sinokrot, 16, succumbed to a head wound suffered during a protest a week ago but the circumstances of how he sustained the wound were in dispute.
His father, Abdel-Majid, said his son had been hit in the head by a rubber bullet but Israeli police said Sinokrot had been hit in the leg with a foam projectile and had fallen and hit his head while running away from officers.
The body was taken for a post-mortem examination in Tel Aviv and the Israeli Justice Ministry’s police investigations unit was examining the circumstances of the case, a police spokesman said.
In another incident, Palestinians attacked a petrol station in a Jewish neighbourhood in East Jerusalem adjacent to their own quarter of the city. They damaged fuel pumps and attempted to torch the station’s convenience store, police said.
Street clashes with police in riot gear, military-style raids on homes late at night and stone-throwing at Israeli vehicles have marked the most serious outbreak of violence in Jerusalem since a Palestinian uprising a decade ago.
The violent protests in the city have been raging almost nightly beyond the spotlight on the Gaza war, leading to a crackdown by Israeli police in which hundreds of Palestinians have been detained.
The protests erupted in July after the murder of a Palestinian teen in an alleged revenge attack by three Jews, who are standing trial. That followed the killing of three Israeli youths in the occupied West Bank by Hamas Islamist militants.
The seething tensions have underscored deepening divisions in the Israeli-occupied part of the city that Israel claims as its “indivisible capital”.
Repeated damage caused by Palestinians to a Jerusalem light railway, which links Arab and Jewish neighbourhoods and was once hailed by Israeli authorities as a symbol of coexistence, had put a third of its carriages out of commission.
Israel captured East Jerusalem along with Gaza and the West Bank in the 1967 Six Day War. It annexed the city shortly afterwards and passed a law in 1980 that declared all of Jerusalem its capital, a move not recognised internationally.
Some 40 percent of Jerusalem’s 800,000 residents are Palestinians. They have Israeli-issued identity cards that entitle them - as residents of a city that Israel regards as part of the Jewish state - to the same civil rights and state-funded services afforded Israeli citizens.
But many see Israeli settlement construction in annexed areas of Jerusalem and restrictions on access to the al Aqsa mosque in the historic Old City, which Israel says stem from security concerns, as attempts to change the nature of the city.
Much of the anti-Israeli violence in recent years in Jerusalem has flared at the sacred compound in the Old City where al Aqsa mosque is located and which Jews revere as the site of two destroyed Biblical temples.
Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Rosalind Russell and Eric Walsh