The occupied West Bank is seeing its worst clashes in years following the abduction and murder of a Palestinian teenager. The badly burnt body of 17-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir was found in a forest near Jerusalem on Wednesday. Palestinians blamed Israeli settlers for carrying out a revenge attack for the murders of three teenage settlers, whose bodies were found earlier this week. Khdeir’s father said Israeli police failed to adequately respond to his son’s abduction.
Hussein Abu Khdeir: "They kidnapped him, took him and left. The guys chased them. They went in the direction of Ramot by the train tracks. The whole road is covered in cameras. The guys called the police. They came immediately and told us, so we called the police. His phone was working. We gave the police his phone number and everything. They didn’t help at all."
Hours after Khdeir’s body was found, Israeli forces fired rubber-coated bullets at scores of Palestinian youths in the streets of East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank. More than 200 Palestinians were reportedly wounded, including four journalists. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel’s settlement policy in the occupied West Bank for Khdeir’s death, saying: "settlers are attacking the Palestinian people every day." The Palestinian teen’s killing follows calls for revenge from Israeli political leaders and a march that saw demonstrators chanting "death to the Arabs." In response, hundreds of Israelis gathered in Jerusalem on Wednesday to protest violent incitement.
Mia Diamond: "We’re not here to make a political statement or anything else. For a child to die under any circumstances is horrific and sad. As the speakers here are saying that the response to death and violence should not be more violence."
Israel has also launched overnight strikes on the Gaza Strip, wounding around a dozen people, one seriously. Palestinian militants fired rockets at southern Israel hours earlier.
The Obama administration has urged all sides to exercise restraint. In Washington, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the U.S. condemns the killing of the Palestinian teen.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest: "The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the heinous murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Hussein Abu Khdeir. We send our condolences to his family and to the Palestinian people. We note that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has called upon law enforcement authorities to work as quickly as possible to identify the perpetrators and motives behind this heinous act, and we hope to swiftly see the guilty parties brought to justice."
The latest unrest also follows massive Israeli raids on the West Bank and airstrikes on Gaza that have killed around 12 Palestinians since mid-June. Critics say the Israeli government has exploited the teens’ abduction to punish the Palestinian Authority for a unity deal with Hamas and for recent efforts to seek international recognition by joining U.N. conventions. Speaking today in Geneva, U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said: "From a human rights point of view, I utterly condemn [Palestinian] rocket attacks, and more especially, I condemn Israel’s excessive acts of retaliation."
The Obama administration has reportedly placed leaders of the Sunni militant group ISIS on the U.S. kill list. According to the Washington Free Beacon, U.S. forces can now kill Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and other ISIS commanders through targeted strikes, such as drone attacks. Baghdadi has been named the leader of the caliphate ISIS recently declared in the seized areas of Iraq and Syria under its control. In a message to supporters, Baghdadi called on Muslims worldwide to join the group.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: "We call on Muslim clerics, scholars, doctors, engineers, military personnel and fighters to join the Muslim Umma and to avenge wrongs committed against Muslims worldwide."
Immigrant rights activists have staged a rally in southern California to show support for undocumented immigrants confronted by right-wing demonstrators. The migrants were traveling in three buses after being flown in from an overcrowded detention center in Texas. But they were prevented from reaching a federal immigration facility in the town of Murrieta after the right-wing demonstrators blocked the road and chanted anti-immigrant slogans. The buses were carrying dozens of children, part of the wave of unaccompanied youths fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. Enrique Morones of the group Border Angels said the children were subjected to hate.
Enrique Morones: "What I saw was one of the worst things that I have ever seen in my life. I have been involved as an observer and a protester and a human rights advocate for a long time. We saw the worst of the American spirit. How is it possible that these children that simply want to live — these are refugees, these are migrants that are escaping a very violent situation in Central America."
The anti-immigrant activists were encouraged by local officials, including Murrieta Mayor Alan Long, who called the migrants a public safety threat.
In response to the migrant crisis, the Obama administration has asked Congress for fast-track authority and additional funding to speed up the deportation of children. A proposed waiver would authorize the deportation of children without the protections afforded by a transfer to the Department of Health and Human Services, which is mandated to look out for their welfare. In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the proposed changes, saying: "The procedures proposed for these children in crisis lack fundamental due process and deny fair treatment. It is imperative that these children receive a fair process to ensure that they are not being returned to life-threatening situations."
The Department of Homeland Security says it is increasing security measures at overseas airports with nonstop flights to the United States. Anonymous U.S. officials have cited concerns about bombs being smuggled onto U.S.-bound planes. The heightened security measures will take effect at airports in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri has vetoed a law requiring a 72-hour wait for an abortion. Missouri had been poised to become the third state forcing women seeking an abortion to wait three days after consulting with their doctor. But Nixon said the waiting period was based on a "paternalistic presumption that rape and incest victims are somehow unable to grasp the horror that has befallen them."
A new law has taken effect in Georgia massively expanding weapons permits in public places. The law lets gun owners take weapons into bars, churches, government buildings and schools under certain conditions. Meanwhile in New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed a measure that would have reduced the legal ammunition magazine from 15 bullets to 10. Christie said the restriction would have done nothing to prevent mass shootings, but critics accused him of catering to Republican primary voters ahead of a potential run for president.
The retail giant Target has banned the carrying of guns in all of its stores nationwide, even in states where it is legal. In a statement, Target said carrying weapons "is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create." The move comes after the gun control group Moms Demand Action launched a national petition in response to pro-gun advocates who openly carried their weapons at retail stores.
Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan has been released after nearly two months behind bars. McMillan was convicted in May of assaulting a police officer at a 2012 protest. She says she struck out instinctively when her breast was grabbed from behind. Speaking to reporters just after walking free, McMillan said she will work to make sure the voices of women prisoners reach "outside the prison system."
Cecily McMillan: "If Judge Zweibel, [District Attorney] Cyrus Vance or Michael Bloomberg set out to make an example out of me to dissuade dissent, this has had the exact opposite impact. I am absolutely and further committed to fighting for rights and freedoms that I did not even realize had been eroded to the extent that they have. I will work tirelessly to make sure that these women’s voices reach outside of that prison system. And I feel like we have finally made a real and concrete step towards effecting a true possibility of the statement, 'We are the 99 percent.'"
The activist Stephen Gaskin has died at the age of 79. In the 1970s, Gaskin founded The Farm in Tennessee, one of the nation’s longest-lasting communes. In 1980, Gaskin became the first winner of the Right Livelihood Award, known as the alternative Nobel Peace Prize, for his work as founder of the global relief and education group Plenty International.