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Israel arrests four Palestinian teenagers suspect in fatal stone-throwing

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Israeli police have arrested four Palestinian teenagers on suspicion of the stoning of a Jewish man’s car this month that caused a fatal crash and helped trigger new measures targeting stone-throwers.

Police said late yesterday the four suspects were aged 16 to 19 and residents of Sur Baher, the east Jerusalem Palestinian district near where the attack took place on September 13 during the Jewish Rosh Hashanah, or New Year, holiday.

The stones had hit the car of 64-year-old Alexander Levlovich, causing him to veer off the road and hit a tree. He died in the crash, and two female passengers were injured.

Shortly afterwards, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the site of the crash and vowed “war” on stone-throwers.

Netanyahu’s security cabinet last week broadened the rules under which stone-throwers can be targeted by live fire, while setting minimum sentences and authorising larger fines for stone-throwing minors and their parents.

Palestine Liberation Organisation secretary general Saeb Erekat criticised the measures, saying “the Israeli government continues to incite against Palestinian lives, with a culture of hate that dehumanises a whole nation.”

Tensions have been high in the West Bank and Jerusalem after recent clashes at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and with the convergence last week of the Jewish Yom Kippur and Muslim Eid al-Adha holidays.

Today, masked Palestinians threw stones and fireworks at police at the flashpoint compound. Police said they dispersed the rioters, with no arrests or injuries reported.

The Jewish Sukkot holiday that begins today night is expected to lead to an increase in the number of Jewish visitors to the Al-Aqsa compound over the coming days, potentially adding to the volatility.

The Al-Aqsa compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, is the third-holiest site in Islam and the most sacred in Judaism.