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Murder of Israeli teenager in West Bank sparks surge in violence

Photo: Jaafar Ashtiyeh Agence France-Presse Israeli security forces and volunteers participate in the search for a missing Israeli teenager in the village of Mughayir near Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, April 13, 2024.

France Media Agency al-Mughayyir, in the Palestinian territories

2:39 p.m.

  • Middle East

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced “a heinous crime” after the discovery on Saturday of the body of a young Israeli shepherd in the occupied West Bank, where the tragedy triggered an outbreak of violence against the Palestinians.

The attacks targeting Palestinian villages north of Ramallah since the disappearance of the teenager on Friday worsened and spread to Hebron (south) and Nablus (center) on Saturday after the announcement of his death at the midday.

A dozen villages were besieged by the army and attacked by hundreds of settlers, leaving several injured, including one shot in the head, according to the Palestinian authorities and media.< /p>

“Dozens of settlers are attacking the village and burning everything they can get their hands on,” al-Mughayyir mayor Amir Abou Alia told AFP.

Plumes of smoke from burned houses, fields, buildings and agricultural machinery rose above the hills and valleys, AFP correspondents noted.< /p>

Call for calm

It was near al-Mughayyir that Benjamin Achimeir, 14, disappeared Friday morning while he was grazing his sheep, which returned without him to his farm in Malachei HaShalom.< /p>

A vast operation was immediately launched by the army, and hundreds of civilians, including many settlers, deployed to try to find him.

The boy's body was located Saturday midday not far away. “Benjamin Achimeir was assassinated in a terrorist attack,” the army, police and domestic intelligence service Shin Beth said in a statement.

Israeli security forces are engaged “in the intensive pursuit of the despicable assassins and all those who collaborated with them,” said Benjamin Netanyahu, denouncing “a heinous crime.”

The head of government also appealed for calm by calling on “all Israeli citizens to allow the security forces to do their work without hindrance”, and his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, warned against any “act of revenge”.

The leader of the Israeli opposition, Yair Lapid, for his part denounced “settler violence” described as a “dangerous violation of the law”.

In Ramallah, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa warned that these attacks would not “discourage our people from remaining on their lands and thwarting displacement efforts and expulsion” of Palestinians from the territory occupied by Israel since 1967.

Smoking carcasses

The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health and the Palestinian Red Crescent have recorded at least one death and dozens of injuries, including many from gunshots, since Friday.

The Israeli army reported “dozens of injured Israelis and Palestinians”.

Al-Muhayyir bore the scars of the violence on Saturday. Around houses or sheds with walls blackened by flames, the charred carcasses of cars, vans or agricultural machinery are still smoking, noted an AFP photographer.

Some dazed residents explored the remains of their house, of which only the skeleton of concrete blocks and the gaping windows overlooking the plain remained.

On the side of the roads, dozens of cars burned and roadblocks set up by the army to search the vehicles.

According to the mayor of Duma, near Nablus, the West Bank “has been experiencing a real state of war since yesterday.” In his commune alone, 15 houses and 10 livestock farms were burned, he assured AFP.

These clashes occur in a context of increased confrontation in the West Bank since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, triggered on October 7 by the bloody attack of the Palestinian Islamist movement on Israeli territory.

In the West Bank, at least 462 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers or settlers since the start of the war, according to the Palestinian Authority.

UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Francesca Albanese, on Friday urged “the UN to authorize the deployment of a protective presence” in the territories.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116