Israel Warns of Expanded Military Response After Killings

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

Police said they were checking several possible leads in the Palestinian’s death, including criminal motives, and investigating whether he 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 and warned his government would retaliate. Hamas, also without providing evidence, yesterday blamed Israel for the death of the Palestinian youth.

The killings raised the prospect of a broader 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 struck 15 Hamas targets in Gaza today, including concealed rocket launchers and weapon storage facilities, the military said in an e-mailed statement. Ashraf al-Qedra, the Gaza emergency services chief, said at least 10 civilians were injured in northern Gaza, including a woman who is in critical condition. The attacks followed rocket strikes from Gaza into Israel, including one that hit a house and knocked out electricity in a southern city, the military said.

Nine more rockets were fired at southern Israel after the aerial attacks, for a total of 14 since midnight, the military said. No injuries have been reported from rocket fire.

Israeli troops have carried out hundreds of arrest 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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