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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Seven people, mostly Jewish youths, have been arrested on suspicion of assaulting a Palestinian resident of Arab East Jerusalem, police said on Monday, in a case that has laid bare racial tensions in the divided city.
Jamal Joulani was beaten unconscious by a gang as he walked through a square in West Jerusalem with relatives on Thursday night.
The case provoked outrage in the city riven by decades of community and ethnic tensions where Jewish and Arab communities live alongside each other in adjacent neighborhoods but rarely mix.
"The incident snowballed and the Jewish group ... verbally abused and violently attacked (Joulani)," said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
A paramedic from Israel's main ambulance service who chanced upon the scene said he had to revive Joulani. "He was not breathing and his heart had stopped beating, he would have died if he had not received the treatment (I gave him)," said Neriah Malkieli.
Joulani has since recovered consciousness but is still in hospital.
Police said the seven were arrested over the weekend. One 19-year-old man was remanded in custody in court on Sunday and two youths were still being questioned, officers said.
Four youths - two teenage boys and two girls - appeared in court on Monday and were either remanded in custody or released to house detention.
Highlighting the often bitter feelings between the two groups, one of the suspects shouted to reporters when being taken into Jerusalem Magistrates Court on Monday he was not upset at being implicated.
"Yes, I was involved because he cursed my mother ... He got the kick he deserved, not more ... He was beaten up, he should be beaten up completely. As far as I am concerned, he can die," the youth said.
The incident came hours after six Palestinians suffered serious burns when a fire bomb set their vehicle on fire in the occupied West Bank. A military source and Israeli media blamed the attack on Jewish settlers and vice-premier Moshe Yaalaon said it was "an act of terrorism".
Palestinians and Israeli human rights groups say that settlers are rarely prosecuted in cases of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.
About 340,000 Israeli settlers and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank. The United Nations deems all Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal. Israel, which cites biblical and historical links to the areas, disputes this.
Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Peace talks with Israel broke down in late 2010 in a dispute on settlements, which the Palestinians say deny them a contiguous, viable state.
(Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
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