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Inside an incident that’s triggering anger from Palestinians and Israelis

A 13-year-old Palestinian boy is accused of a stabbing attack on a 13-year-old Israeli boy, after which the Palestinian was then beaten and left bloody in the street before receiving medical treatment. Special correspondent Martin Seemungal returns to the scene to find out more about what happened and how it's fracturing an already fraught relationship between local Israelis and Palestinians.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    We return now to the violence that's lately consuming Israel and the Palestinian territories.

    Tonight, we focus on one single event involving two young teenage boys on October 12, an episode which has triggered more anger and response than any of the others in the latest wave.

    NewsHour special correspondent Martin Seemungal returned to the scene to find out more about happened, and how it has affected the already fractured relationship between local Israelis and Palestinians.

  • A warning:

    This report contains some graphic images.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    The scenes on this street are calm, giving no indication of the violence that happened here. The video is too graphic to show: a 13-year-old boy on the ground bleeding. The boy is Ahmed Manasra, a Palestinian. The story leading up to this shocking moment is as disturbing as the video.

  • EYAL ELBAZI, Jewish Shopkeeper:

    He stabbed a little kid right here.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    Police have accused Ahmed and his 15-year-old cousin Hassan of stabbing two Israelis, one also 13 years old. Police released closed-circuit video footage of what they say are Ahmed and Hassan running from the scene armed with knives. Minutes later, another camera shows Hassan lunging across the train tracks at police, before he is shot and killed.

    Ahmed is pursued by police and a furious crowd.

    Eyal Elbazi was in that crowd.

  • EYAL ELBAZI:

    What can you do? You see him running up to that area that there's a lot of people over there. We thought he is running out stabbing more people.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    They caught him at the train tracks.

    According to the initial reports, Ahmed wound up here on the tracks because he was hit by a car, but the Israeli doctors who treated him say his injuries fit the profile of someone who had been struck by a blunt instrument. We may never know, but we do know that the video triggered widespread anger among Palestinians.

    It went viral on social media. The cell phone video, recorded by an Israeli bystander, was viewed millions of times on Facebook, complete with background sound of people cursing at him. His father, Saleh, says it was unbearable to watch.

    SALEH MANASRA, Ahmed's Father (through interpreter): A policeman kicked him on the leg twice. A second Israeli called him names. The third was calling, "Kill him, kill him." If it was a cat or a dog on the road, you would help it. He was a child. No one helped him.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    Mysone Mahane is Ahmed's aunt.

  • MYSONE MAHANE, Ahmed’s Aunt:

    I was very shocked when I saw the picture. This is the first picture we have seen. We were very shocked. Yes, I cried. Of course, I cried.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    But Elbazi says the video didn't tell the whole story.

  • EYAL ELBAZI:

    After one or two guys was trying to stop him with a knife and his craziness, they beat him up a little bit. Yes, they beat him up, but a lot of Israelis stopped them to — enough, enough, enough,

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    And Elbazi points out that Ahmed did receive medical treatment along with the 13-year-old Jewish boy he allegedly stabbed. That boy, simply known as Naor — his full name hasn't been released — stumbled away from the scene and collapsed before paramedics stabilized him.

    His family declined to be interviewed. But we spoke to others who know him, including his classmates.

    "DANIEL", Classmate of stabbing victim (through interpreter): He is a fine boy, a good boy, very sociable, very friendly. He loves everyone. We are his friends. He is in our class.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    Well-known to the shopkeepers in the neighborhood, Gil Tzemach says he came to his store often.

    GIL TZEMACH, Jewish Shopkeeper (through interpreter): I feel pain for the victim for a boy who basically just came to buy some candy. It could have been me 20 seconds before or after.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    Ahmed is also described as quiet and well-liked. His mother showed us these pictures. He is fond of animals, keeps pets, a turtle, and pigeons. None of his friends or family believe Ahmed attacked 13-year-old Naor with a knife, especially his father.

    SALEH MANASRA (through interpreter): A 13-year-old boy is not able to stab anyone. He is not physically strong enough to do it.

  • MYSONE MAHANE:

    We don't support killing, not for Jews, not for any — for Israelis. We don't support this, of course, especially the honest people, the innocent people, Palestinians or Israelis. We don't support this.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    Even Elbazi, one of the Israeli witnesses to the attack, is finding it difficult to comprehend, but thinks he knows what happened.

  • EYAL ELBAZI:

    I think 13 year old doesn't know what to think. I don't think his father knew. I don't think his mother knew. I don't think the family knew about it. I think he did it from Facebook or something like that.

    I don't think his dad will approve something like that. Any dad wouldn't approve his son will go and to murder people. It's not right. It's wrong. He's 13 years old. He's not supposed to do that.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    All of this is playing out amid a surge of violence between Palestinians and Israelis, the story of Naor and Ahmed a microcosm of a wider narrative.

    Naor comes from Pisgat Ze'ev, a Jewish settlement in Eastern Jerusalem. It is built on land captured by Israel in 1967, and is considered illegal under international law. Israel disputes that.

    Ahmed comes from the Palestinian village of Beit Hanina. Pisgat Ze'ev and Beit Hanina are separated by a highway, but there is an enormous cultural and religious divide. Jews in Pisgat Ze'ev say they rarely come to Beit Hanina because they are afraid of being attacked. But there is mistrust and fear on both sides.

    Has it changed attitudes of you and your classmates towards Israelis?

    "MOHAMMED", Friend of Hassan Manasrah: We hate them, yes. They're bad people. They kill Palestinians.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    Fifteen-year-old Mohammed, also from Beit Hanina and a close friend of Ahmed's now deceased cousin, said he was moved watching the video.

  • MOHAMMED:

    He was laying down. He got up. He was — a lot of blood, but they were looking at him and they were not helping him. They were not helping him. That felt so bad.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    Speaking to young people from both sides of this divide, it was hard to imagine a future much brighter than their parents'.

  • BOY (through interpreter):

    Our friend Naor was exactly the same age as the Palestinian kid who stabbed him. Now I hate Arabs even more.

    "NOAM", Classmate of stabbing victim (through interpreter): I felt like grabbing a knife and stabbing Arabs as revenge. My friend did nothing. He was on his way back home on a bike. And then when I saw the attacker injured, I felt good watching him being injured. I'm not against all Arabs, just bad Arabs who commit terrorist attacks.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    The evening of the incident, Israeli police raided the Manasra home in Beit Hanina, confiscating phones and belongings. Ahmed's cousin was arrested.

    Two nights later, police returned, following up on reports that Palestinians in Beit Hanina were throwing rocks at cars entering Pisgat Ze'ev. The police commander delivered a very clear message to Ahmed's extended family gathered in the courtyard.

  • MAN (through interpreter):

    If another person comes out and throws a stone or a bottle onto the road, everyone who is standing here, I promise, I will break his arms and legs.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    The stabbing incident also led to acrimony at the highest levels. At one point, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of executing young Palestinians, referencing the video of Ahmed lying on the ground as evidence, prompting a swift and angry response from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    He accused Abbas of incitement and produced a video showing Ahmed being fed in his hospital bed. Ahmed's family said their lawyer was the one feeding him. Tareq Barghout says he was feeding Ahmed Jell-O when someone from Prime Minister Netanyahu's office arrived.

    TAREQ BARGHOUT, Manasrah Family Attorney (through interpreter): I felt disgusted. I put on Facebook, look, the battle is now in the media. It's not legal. They violated the law. It's illegal to publish a photo of a minor while he is detained.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    Dr. Asher Salmon is the deputy director of the hospital where Ahmed was treated.

  • DR. ASHER SALMON, Hadassah Hospital:

    In general, I would prefer that minors wouldn't be videotaped, would not — and pictures wouldn't be discharged. But in a condition when false data is spread all over the world that this kid was executed, killed, whatever, so I think it had put things in the proper context.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem in Jerusalem prides itself for treating all patients equally, Israelis and Palestinians. Dr. Salmon says they were criticized by some for treating Ahmed.

  • DR. ASHER SALMON:

    I did hear words like, why do you treat terrorists? Terrorists should be killed, and things like that which, of course, I am not even going to respond to these type of comments.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    The same policy exists at the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, where 13-year-old Naor is being treated. In fact, Naor's lead doctor is Arab-Israeli, the one who took the father to his son's bedside.

  • DR. AHMED EID, Hadassah Hospital:

    He knew because I told him. I am Ahmed Eid, my name. I guess that he figured that I am not Jew, I am Arab. So, it was clear to him.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    And there were no issues?

  • DR. AHMED EID:

    No. No.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    Ilanit Tal is the head nurse on the ward where Naor is being treated. She says it is a mixed staff and this recent wave of violence is particularly painful to deal with.

  • ILANIT TAL, Nurse:

    I'm used to this attack in Jerusalem, but not with children. It's difficult to see that — the children attacking us, it's difficult, you know, and children being hurt, it's not — it's different.

  • MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:

    Naor is no longer in critical condition and is expected to be discharged from hospital next week. Ahmed was released from hospital, but remains under arrest. Police are treating him as a terrorist and he is expected to be charged with attempted murder.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I'm Martin Seemungal in Jerusalem.

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