Gaza buries teens as Israel arrests suspect in settler killing

Thousands of Palestinians attended the funerals of teenagers Hasan Shalabi and Hamza Shteiwi in the Gaza Strip.

    More than 240 Palestinians have been killed and over 23,000 others wounded since the protests began in March [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]
    More than 240 Palestinians have been killed and over 23,000 others wounded since the protests began in March [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]

    Israeli police said Saturday they arrested a Palestinian suspect in the killing of an Israeli teenager, as thousands of people in Gaza buried two Palestinian teenagers killed a day earlier in protests along the perimeter fence.

    The police said the suspect was arrested in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, but originally comes from the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron. The police did not say when the arrest took place.

    The body of Ori Ansbacher, 19, was found in the woods near Jerusalem on Thursday with stab wounds. Israeli police had immediately imposed a gag order on details regarding the incident.

    Over 650,000 settlers live in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as well as occupied East Jerusalem. The settlements are seen as illegal under international law and a major obstacle to peace, as they are built on land the Palestinian leaders see as part of their future state.

    In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians attended the funerals of the teenagers.

    Fatima, the mother of 14-year-old Hasan Shalabi wailed as mourners brought his body on a stretcher for a final farewell at their home in the Nusseirat refugee camp.

    "He was everything beautiful at home; his voice, his happiness fills the house. There is laughter and play when he is home," said Fatima, soon after the body was carried away, wrapped in a Palestinian flag.

    A recent video of Shalabi circulated on social media, where he identified himself and despite his young age said he was looking for work to support his family.

    The two teenagers were standing 50-60 metres from the fence at separate protests when they were shot, according to rights group al-Mezan.

    In Gaza City, mourners buried Hamza Shteiwi. The health ministry put his age at 18, but al-Mezan said he was 17. Footage of Hamza lying on his back the moment after a bullet struck him in the neck spread on social media.

    As part of the Great March of Return rallies, protesters have been calling for Palestinian refugees to be allowed to return to former homes their families were ethnically cleansed from in the run-up to the establishment of Israel in 1948.

    Protesters are also demanding an end to Israel's 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave's economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

    More than 240 Palestinians have been killed and over 23,000 others wounded since the protests began on March 30. Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.

    The UN children's agency condemned the killing of the two Palestinians, warning of the "significant violence" Palestinian children endure.

    "Children are children. They must be protected at all times. Children should never be a target. Nor should they be exposed to any form of violence, by any party," said the UNICEF Middle East director Geert Cappelaere in a statement.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies