Israeli police have arrested a group of Jewish extremists in connection with the kidnap and murder of a Palestinian teenager who was burned to death in a suspected revenge killing.
The brutal murder on July 2 triggered four days of violent clashes which began in east Jerusalem and have spread to more than half a dozen Arab towns in Israel, with hordes of angry protesters hurling stones at riot police.
The Shin Bet internal security agency said the suspects were arrested yesterday. Other details of the case were subjected to a strict gag order.
The arrests followed days of growing suspicion that Wednesday's murder was carried out by extremist Jews in revenge for last month's abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the occupied West Bank.
Tensions rose in the south Sunday with Gaza militants firing another 17 rockets and projectiles over the border, after a night of 10 air strikes. No causality was reported.
Overnight, Israel police arrested 35 people.
The grisly murder has sparked shock, disgust and an outpouring of condemnation from both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said he had asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to form "an international investigative committee on the terrorist crimes committed against the Palestinian people" by Israel, including Abu Khder's murder.
Brutally beaten and 'jailed'
A Jerusalem court yesterday ordered that a Palestinian American teenager, who was allegedly beaten in police custody, be released to house arrest for nine days pending an investigation into stone-throwing allegations.
Tariq Abu Khder, 15, a cousin of a murdered teen that sparked clashes there, was arrested on Thursday in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Shuafat amid clashes, and his parents said he was badly beaten in police custody.
He has been freed on bail pending an investigation. His bail conditions include 10 days house arrest, a $2,857 fine.
On Friday, a video surfaced on YouTube showing Israeli border police beating and kicking a handcuffed semi-conscious figure on the ground, before dragging him away.
Washington said it was "profoundly troubled" by the report, prompting the Israeli justice ministry's police investigations department to begin an urgent investigation.