Israel Warns of Expanded Military Response After Killings

The killing of a Palestinian teenager raised fears of a cycle of revenge attacks for the death of three Israeli youths, and the U.S. urged both sides to avoid escalating tensions.

Police said they were checking several possible leads for the Palestinian’s death, including criminal motives, and investigating the possibility that the victim was forced into a vehicle yesterday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed police and security officers “to act as quickly as possible” to find who was behind the murder, and called on “both sides not to take the law into their own hands.”

The Israeli leader, without providing evidence, has accused the Hamas militant group that controls the Gaza Strip of killing the Israeli teens who went missing last month, and warned that his government is ready to retaliate. Hamas yesterday blamed Israel for the death of the Palestinian youth.

The recriminations raised the prospect of a new cycle of violence two months after the breakdown of U.S.-backed peace talks. Since then, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has enraged Israel by ending an internal feud and bringing Hamas into his government.

“Those who undertake acts of vengeance only destabilize an already explosive and emotional situation,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. He said the U.S. condemns in the “strongest possible terms” the Palestinian teenager’s abduction and murder.

‘Heavy Price’

Hamas warned Israel it would “pay a heavy price,” in an e-mailed statement. The group, considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union, hasn’t confirmed or denied involvement in the June 12 kidnapping of the Israeli teenagers.

The latest killing sparked confrontations between police and Palestinians in northeast Jerusalem, where the teenager disappeared. Palestinians hurled rocks and firebombs at officers, who used stun grenades to disperse the crowds, police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat condemned the killing as “a horrible and barbaric act.” Abbas, who has denounced the abduction of the Israeli teenagers, asked that Netanyahu condemn the Palestinian’s death in the same way, according to official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Hunting for Killers

After the Israeli teenagers were buried on July 1, Netanyahu warned that Israel may expand military action against Hamas in Gaza “if necessary” as it hunts for their killers.

Israeli aircraft carried out an airstrike against a mortar-launching site in Gaza yesterday, after dozens of similar strikes the previous, the military said. It said militants have launched dozens of rockets at southern Israel this week, including at least 20 yesterday, which didn’t cause any reported injuries or damage.

Israeli troops have carried out hundreds of raids in the West Bank since the youths were abducted.

Seven Palestinians were killed and almost 200 wounded between June 13 and July 1, Chris Gunness, a spokesman for a UN aid agency in east Jerusalem, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. He said 88 people from refugee camps in the West Bank have been detained.

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