A group of suspects have reportedly confessed Monday to the killing of a Palestinian teenager last week, as tensions between Palestinians and Israelis approach a boiling point.
Israeli officials announced Sunday that six Jewish men had been taken into custody as suspects in the July 2 murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir, according to CBS News. Three of them have reportedly confessed to kidnapping and later burning alive the 16-year-old Palestinian boy.
All six suspects are still in custody, according to The Christian Science Monitor. The men have been denied access to lawyers, which is legal under Israeli law for up to 21 days in cases of violent hate crimes.
Khdeir’s death further escalated Israeli-Palestinian tensions. Israeli officials reportedly blame Palestinians for the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank last month. Bloomberg reports Khdeir’s murder was a “retribution” killing.
Khdeir was kidnapped and killed Wednesday, hours after the three Israeli teens’ funeral service in the West Bank, according to The Associated Press.
Children and teenagers became targets for Israeli-Palestinian violence after the bodies of the three abducted Israeli teenagers were found on June 30, according to The Globe and Mail.
A 9-year-old Palestinian girl was hospitalized after she was reportedly struck by a car with Israeli license plates.
And at least two other Palestinian boys managed to escape kidnapping attempts similar to Khdeir’s.
Violent protests have erupted in response to Khdeir’s death. Israeli police reportedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets into crowds of Palestinian protesters, according to The Christian Science Monitor.
Tariq Abu Khdeir, Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s cousin and a native of Baltimore, Maryland, was the last to see his relative alive, according to The Baltimore Sun. He was reportedly beaten by Israeli police during one such protest held in anticipation of the funeral. Israeli police officials report Tariq was arrested Thursday with a group of demonstrators using slingshots and rocks against Israeli security forces.
But Tariq said he was just watching the protest when police approached him, according to CNN.
“I was attacked by police. I woke up in the hospital,” he said Sunday, according to CNN. “I just saw somebody running at me, so I tried to run away.”
Tariq, a Palestinian-American citizen and American high school student, remained in custody until his bail was posted Sunday. His arrest drew the attention of the U.S. Department of Defense.
“We are profoundly troubled by reports that he was severely beaten while in police custody and strongly condemn any excessive use of force,” DoD said in a news release, after pictures of Tariq’s swollen face surfaced.
The Defense Department is calling for a “speedy, transparent, and credible investigation,” according to the news release.
Israeli and Palestinian officials have condemned their respective citizens’ roles in the escalating violence. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas promised to “hold [the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers’] kidnappers accountable, whoever they are,” according to The New York Times.
And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to “respond aggressively” to attempts at revenge against the Palestinian people.
“We will not allow extremists, it doesn’t matter from which side, to inflame the region and cause bloodshed,” Netanyahu said in a statement, according to CBS News.
But Gaza militants and Israeli forces have exchanged volleys of missile strikes in recent days. A series of missile strikes from Israel into southern Gaza Monday reportedly killed at least seven fighters associated with Hamas, a designated terrorist group by Israel and the U.S., according to Bloomberg and The New York Times.
Hamas promised in a statement on its website that “the Zionist enemy will pay a heavy price,” according to The Times.
More than 20 rockets were reportedly fired from Gaza into Israel Sunday night into Monday morning, according to The New York Times.
Cease-fire negotiations have bounced around, but attacks continued into Monday. Hamas official Mushier al-Masri said a 2012 cease-fire agreement between Palestinian militants and Israel, negotiated in part by Jordan and Egypt, has all but evaporated.
“There is nothing left of the deal,” said al-Masri.