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News Wrap: Israeli police clash with Palestinians over murder of teenager

July 2, 2014 at 6:02 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Tropical Storm Arthur neared hurricane strength in the Atlantic Ocean today. By late in the day, it was centered roughly 200 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina. It could skim the Outer Banks of North Carolina tomorrow. A swathe of about 200 miles of North Carolina coast is now under a hurricane warning on this week that brings Fourth of July vacationers. Arthur is the first named storm of the Atlantic season.

A bipartisan government panel reported today that the National Security Agency’s Internet surveillance is an effective tool against terrorism. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a group appointed by the president, said the so-called PRISM program, under a provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Section 702, is constitutional.

David Medine chairs the board.

DAVID MEDINE, Chair, Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board: Overall, the board has found that the information the program collects has been valuable and effective in protecting the national security and producing valuable foreign intelligence information.

Outside of this fundamental core, certain aspects of the Section 702 program do raise privacy concerns and push the program close to the line of constitutional reasonableness.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The panel’s report on Internet surveillance contrasted sharply with its earlier finding on phone data collection. It said that effort lacked a viable legal foundation and should be shut down.

The federal Department of Homeland Security is moving to increase security at overseas airports with direct flights to the United States. News accounts today said U.S. officials are concerned that al-Qaida operatives in Syria and Yemen are trying to create bombs to smuggle on to planes. The new security measures will take effect in the next few days. Officials didn’t specify which airports are affected.

Israeli police and Palestinian youths fought street battles in Jerusalem today, as a new cycle of violence loomed. The clashes were triggered by the murder overnight of a Palestinian teenager.

Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News reports from Jerusalem.

LINDSEY HILSUM, ITN: The clashes began this morning after a 16-year-old Palestinian boy was allegedly kidnapped by Israeli youths in a van and his burnt body dumped in a forest in Jewish West Jerusalem.

The air is acrid from the smoke of tires that the Palestinian youths are burning as they throw stones at the Israeli security forces. This seems to have been what some Israelis call price tag, a revenge killing, extreme Israelis, possibly settlers, taking revenge for the killing of the three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank.

Mohammad Abu Khdeir was outside the mosque when he was seized. The police have CCTV footage from a next-door shop that apparently shows what happened.

Inside the family home, his relatives sit in shock.

SUBA ABU KHDEIR (through interpreter): For three people, they turned the world upside down. But nobody cares about my son.

LINDSEY HILSUM: Last night, a crowd of extremist Israelis rampaged through the streets of Jerusalem shouting, “Death to the Arabs.”  They attacked five Arab men, two of whom ended up in hospital. This morning, Jewish settlers reportedly burnt a barn on a Palestinian farm near Nablus. The graffiti in Hebrew reads: “Price tag, Jewish revenge.”

This afternoon, they held the funeral of Mohammad Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian boy in the wrong place at the wrong time. The danger now is that someone will exact vengeance for his killing and the cycle of revenge will never end.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Washington, the White House called the killing of the Palestinian teenager a despicable act. It urged both sides to tamp down calls for revenge.

In Eastern Ukraine, government forces say they carried out more than 100 attacks on pro-Russian rebels. The offensive began yesterday after the country’s leader let a cease-fire lapse. Meanwhile, foreign ministers from France, Ukraine, Germany and Russia met in Berlin.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Moscow may face additional sanctions.

CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL, Germany (through interpreter): Regarding sanctions against Russia, we have so far reached level two and we cannot rule out having to go further. We discussed this as well with the Ukrainian president and many issues will be further discussed in connection with this issue. But no decision has been made yet.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Later, the ministers agreed on a series of steps leading toward a possible resumption of the cease-fire.

Police in Hong Kong forcibly removed hundreds of sit-in protesters in the city’s financial district today. Officers moved in around 3:00 a.m. after issuing a series of warnings to demonstrators who locked arms with each other. More than 500 were arrested. The protesters had staged an overnight sit-in, following yesterday’s mass march, demanding elections free from mainland China’s control.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 20 points to close at another record high, 16,976. The S&P 500 added one point to finish at 1,974, also a new high. But the Nasdaq fell about a point to 4,457.