Moscow condemns killings in Israel and Palestine

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Moscow urges the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to exert maximum effort to find the abductors of three Israeli and one Palestinian teenagers and bring them to justice, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, July 3. “We continue to receive alarming reports about the escalation of tensions on the Palestinian territories. According to media reports, up to 20 missiles and about a dozen mortar shells were fired from Gaza at the southern regions of Israel on the night from July 2 to July 3. The city of Sderot was shelled the hardest. In return, the Israeli Air Force attacked 15 targets in the enclave, wounding about 10 Palestinians. More than 30 missiles have been fired at Israel and several dozen targets have been bombed in Gaza since the beginning of July,” the ministry said.

The situation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has also deteriorated. “One of the main reasons for that was the abduction by unidentified persons and the subsequent atrocious killing of Mohammed Abu Khudair, a 16-year-old Palestinian. We condemn this crime in the strongest possible terms and express sincere condolences to his family,” the ministry said.

“Moscow considers the criminal practice of abduction and killing of innocent peaceful people, be it Israelis or Palestinians, absolutely unacceptable and rejects it completely.”

“We urge the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to exert maximum effort to find those responsible for the abduction and appalling killing of three Israeli teenagers and Abu Khudair,” the ministry said.

“Once again we are strongly calling on the conflicting sides to put an end to the vicious circle of violence, show restraint and take all the necessary steps to normalize the situation,” it said, reports ITAR-TASS.

UN human rights chief condemns Israeli-Palestinian exchange fire across border

The UN human rights chief condemned both Palestinians and Israelis for a flare up of violence across the Israel-Gaza border following the deaths of three abducted Jewish teens. “From a human rights point of view, I utterly condemn these rocket attacks and more especially I condemn Israel’s excessive acts of retaliation,” UN Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told journalists in Vienna on Thursday, Reuters reports.

“I am extremely concerned by what’s happening,” she added on the sidelines of a conference.

She also condemned killing of a Palestinian teen, whose body was found in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

“It’s despicable but now in turn there’s been a kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian youth. This cannot happen. This level of retaliation is excessive and this is what is spawned when governments do not respect the rule of law, when governments themselves resort to excessive forms of retaliation,” she said.

Middle East tensions: Gaza rocket fire continues

Rocket fire from Gaza continued on Thursday morning, causing damage to two buildings in Sderot. No injuries were reported. One of the rockets hit the side of a building that contained a kindergarten, but did not detonate. The area was closed off to passersby, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld tweeted on Thursday morning.

Israel’s Iron Dome system shot down two missiles fired from Gaza fired in the direction of the southern town of Netivot. A total of thirteen rockets landed in the Sderot area since midnight, including two direct hits on residential buildings. There were no injuries, but damage to the properties, Jerusalem Post reports.

The Israeli Air Force attacked 15 terror sites in Gaza early on Thursday morning, following a barrage of rocket attacks on Israel throughout Wednesday.

During the day, southern communities came under mortar attack; Eshkol region was struck nine times. After a mortar attack in the evening, the Israel Air Force hit a mortar-launching cell in southern Gaza, destroying the launcher.

Palestine accuses Israel in being responsible for revenge murder of teen

The Palestinian leadership believes that Israel is responsible for killing a teenager from east Jerusalem in a suspected revenge attack for the murder of three young Israelis. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in a statement demanded that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemn the murder. Abbas said that Israel should “take concrete steps on the ground to stop (revenge) attacks and the chaos caused by the Israeli escalation”.

At the same time, the Palestinian president’s spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeina in a separate statement accuses Israeli authorities in the death of the teen.

“Israel is fully responsible for the killing of the teenager and we demand that the perpetrators are found and held accountable,” he said, AFP reports.

The violence has triggered a wave of rioting in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, with hundreds of masked Palestinians hurling stones at Israeli police in riot gear.

Shortly after the Palestinian comments, Netanyahu issued a statement condemning the “despicable murder” and urging the authorities to expedite investigations.

Israel police have confirmed finding a body in a forest in west Jerusalem but have not formally said it is that of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khder who was reported kidnapped from the Arab eastern sector of the city before dawn.

However, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch confirmed there was a link between the missing youth and the body found in a forest in west Jerusalem, the Walla news website reported.
n a conversation with Aharonovitch, Netanyahu asked that the investigating authorities “work as quickly as possible to find out who was being the heinous murder of the youth and what is the background to the incident.”

Netanyahu also “called on all sides not to take the law into their own hands” as fears grew that the killing was an act of revenge for the murder by Palestinian militants of three Israeli teenagers, whose bodies were found on Monday.

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