Palestinians stand next to a crater which police said was
caused by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City. Photo by
Israel has beefed up its forces along its frontier with
the Gaza Strip and launched air strikes against militant Hamas
targets there in response to Palestinian cross-border rocket
Israel also faced a second day of violent Palestinian
protests in Jerusalem after the discovery of the body of a
16-year-old Palestinian boy on Wednesday in a forest near the
Israeli police are investigating the possibility that he was
the victim of a revenge killing over the deaths of three
Jewish teenagers, whose abduction on June 12 Israel has
blamed on Islamist Hamas militants in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said if Gaza rocket
fire stopped then Israel would also halt its actions.
But he added in a speech that if "firing toward our residents
in the south continues, then our bolstered forces there will
Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said
troops were taking up "defence positions" in Israeli
communities that have been struck by the rockets from Gaza.
He did not comment on the scale of the deployment.
It is the first time since the border began to heat up in
mid-June - in tandem with an Israeli military sweep and
search for the three abducted Israeli youths in the West Bank
- that Israel has announced troop movements near the Gaza
"We are moving and we have moved forces," Lerner said in a
conference call with foreign journalists. "Everything we are
doing is to de-escalate the situation but on the other hand
to be prepared if they don't de-escalate."
Israel has "no interest in deepening the conflict with Gaza -
the absolute opposite is true", he added.
Abu Ubaida, spokesman for Hamas' armed wing, Izz el-Deen
Al-Qassam Brigades, accused Israel of breaching a ceasefire
brokered after a 2012 eight-day cross-border war, and said
the group would respond according to developments on the
"Our people know well how to exact a heavy price from the
enemy," Ubaida said at a news conference in Gaza.
Netanyahu convened his security cabinet on Thursday for a
fourth time since Monday, an official said, as tension
remained high in Jerusalem in anticipation of the funeral of
the Palestinian youth, Mohammed Abu Khudair.
Abu Khudair's body underwent an autopsy on Thursday and his
burial was set for Friday, his family and a police spokesman
said. The funeral is likely to stir strong emotions among
Palestinians and could trigger further confrontation.
Police clashed with a few dozen stone-throwing Palestinians
in Jerusalem's Arab neighbourhood Shuafat and a police
spokesman said six people were arrested, but the violence was
on a much smaller scale than on Wednesday.
The military said Palestinians in the Gaza Strip had fired
more than 40 projectiles into Israel on Thursday and that
rockets struck two homes in the southern town of Sderot,
causing no casualties.
Israel launched air strikes against at least three Hamas
training facilities in Gaza, residents said, adding that 15
people had been injured.
U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay condemned both Israelis
and Palestinians on Thursday for the latest flare-up of
violence across the Gaza border and also Abu Khudair's
"From a human rights point of view, I utterly condemn these
rocket attacks and more especially I condemn Israel's
excessive acts of retaliation," Pillay told journalists in
The Palestinian youth Abu Khudair was last seen alive being
bundled into a van on Wednesday near his home in the Arab
neighbourhood of Shuafat in Jerusalem, a day after the
burials of the Jewish teenagers, who were abducted on June
"I unequivocally condemn the murder," Netanyahu said.
"The police investigation is ongoing. We don't know yet the
motives or the identities of the perpetrators, but we will.
We will bring to justice the criminals responsible for this
despicable crime, whoever they may be."
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who accused Jewish
settlers of killing the teenager, spoke by telephone with the
youth's father on Thursday.
"Mohammed is one of the martyrs of this great people," Abbas
said, according to the official Palestinian news agency,
The killing of Abu Khudair also drew international
condemnation and the United States urged Abbas's Palestinian
Authority to "take all necessary steps to prevent an
atmosphere of revenge and retribution".