Israel has accused the Palestinian president of spreading "lies" after he wrongly claimed Israel had "executed" a 13-year-old Palestinian boy. The heated exchange comes as the region grapples with a surge in violence.
Name-calling between the Palestinian and Israeli leaders escalated on Thursday, after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel was engaged in the "summary execution of our children in cold blood."
In a televised speech, Abbas said that 13-year-old Ahmed Manasra was among those children. The teenager was run over on Monday by an Israeli vehicle after he and his 15-year-old cousin Hassan allegedly stabbed two Israelis in Jerusalem. Hassan was shot dead after the attack.
Amateur video subsequently uploaded to social media websites showed a wounded Ahmed lying in the street in a pool of blood, while bystanders yelled abuse at him in Hebrew. The images caused an uproar among Palestinians.
"We will not give in to the logic of brute force and policies of occupation and aggression practiced by the Israeli government and its herds of settlers who engage in terrorism against our people…and the summary execution of our children in cold blood, as they did with the child Ahmed Manasra," Abbas said in his address.
But he now appears to have been mistaken. On Thursday, the Israeli government posted photographs to Twitter showing Ahmed recovering in Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital. A doctor at the center told Associated Press he could be discharged within a few days.
Abbas' speech also triggered a strong response from Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately accused the Palestinian leader of making false statements and seeking to incite violence among Palestinians in what is already a volatile climate. President Reuven Rivlin issued a statement, saying "truth isn't relative."
Calls for restraint
Over the past month, eight Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks - most of them stabbings - while at least 31 Palestinians have been shot by Israeli fire. In response to the unrest, Israel has deployed 300 soldiers in Jerusalem and implemented a raft of new security measures.
Netanyahu has repeatedly alleged that Abbas is inciting Palestinians to attack Israelis - a claim denied by the Palestinian leader. Meanwhile, Abbas has accused Israel of using excessive force against Palestinians.
The International Committee of the Red Cross on Thursday urged both sides to show restraint and condemned "deliberate or indiscriminate" attacks on civilians.
"Firearms and live ammunition must be used only as a last resort, to protect against an imminent threat to life," the ICRC said.
The recent uptick in violence was triggered in part by Palestinian anger over what they see as increased Jewish encroachment on Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound. The area, Islam's holiest site outside Saudi Arabia, is also revered by Jews as the location of two destroyed biblical temples.
nm/cmk (Reuters, AP)