Mounting tensions in Middle East

Last updated 01:29 04/07/2014

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A rocket launched from Gaza slammed into a house in southern Israel on Thursday, the military said, causing no injuries but adding to the mounting tensions surrounding the suspected revenge killing of an Arab teen in Jerusalem.

Israeli media showed footage of a large hole in the house, in the southern border town of Sderot, where earlier another house was struck, causing heavy damage to the structure and a nearby road and knocking out electricity throughout the town. No one was wounded in that strike.

Police are meanwhile investigating the disappearance of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, whose family says he was abducted Wednesday shortly before a charred body was found in a Jerusalem forest.

The family accused extremist Jews of killing him in revenge for the deaths of three Israeli teens, who went missing more than two weeks before their bodies were found in a field in the West Bank.

The suspected killing ignited clashes in east Jerusalem between rock-throwing Palestinians and Israeli forces, who responded with stun grenades and rubber-coated billers.

The rioters set tires ablaze and torched three light-rail train shelters.  

East Jerusalem was quiet Thursday morning but police said units were still patrolling the area.

A cameraman filmed Hebrew graffiti reading ''death to Israel'' and ''death to Jews.''

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the graffiti was likely sprayed since Abu Khdeir's disappearance and that police were looking into it.  

Police were still working to identify the body on Thursday, as well as pinpoint the motives behind the killing.

''The investigation is continuing in order to determine whether this was criminal or nationalistic,'' police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

The incident elicited international condemnation and prompted calls for calm from Israeli leaders.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded a swift probe of the ''reprehensible murder.''

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it was clear extremist Jewish settlers were responsible for the death and called on Israel to bring the killers to justice.

Israel says the militant Hamas, which rules Gaza, abducted and killed the Israeli teens, which led to the largest ground operation in the West Bank in nearly a decade, with Israel arresting hundreds of Hamas operatives as part of a broad manhunt.

The discovery of the bodies following days of intense media coverage led to an outpouring of national grief.

As the funerals were being held on Tuesday, hundreds of right-wing Israeli youths marched through Jerusalem, screaming for revenge.

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Rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes have intensified since the teens went missing.

- AP

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