Israeli Teen’s Death Ignites More Violence in West Bank


An Israeli teenager whose disappearance had led to riots by Israeli settlers in the West Bank was found dead on Saturday, the Israeli authorities said, threatening to further inflame tensions in the Israeli-occupied territory.

Dozens of Israelis and Palestinians were wounded during clashes at several locations across the West Bank later on Saturday, the Israeli military said in a statement. Israeli extremists stormed at least two villages in the territory, attempting to burn Palestinian property and clashing with residents, according to Palestinian witnesses.

Binyamin Achimair, 14, had left a farming settlement in the West Bank to herd sheep on Friday morning, but never returned, according to the Israeli police. The Israeli forces later found his corpse, and the military said, without providing evidence, that he had been “murdered in a terrorist attack.”

After Binyamin’s disappearance on Friday, armed Israeli settlers stormed a Palestinian village near Ramallah, torching several buildings and cars, according to Palestinian officials and Yesh Din, an Israeli rights group. One Palestinian man — Jihad Abu Aliya — was killed during the clashes and at least 25 others wounded, according to the village mayor, Amin Abu Aliya.

Binyamin’s death and the possibility of further Israeli reprisals could ratchet up violence in the West Bank, where roughly 500,000 Israeli settlers live alongside about 2.7 million Palestinians. Over 400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces across the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 sparked Israel’s campaign in Gaza, according to the United Nations.

The Israeli military announced on Saturday that it would bolster its forces in the West Bank with additional companies and police.

The Israeli mob assaults returned on Saturday in both Al Mughayir and Duma, a nearby Palestinian village, according to an Israeli security official and Palestinian witnesses. Israeli settlers, some of them armed, entered the villages, the official added, and there were reports that they had opened fire.

In Duma, the attackers “covered the entire village,” some of them armed, said Naser Dawabsheh, a village resident. They set several buildings and cars ablaze, sending a cloud of dense smoke overhead, he added. Israeli soldiers “didn’t disperse the settlers, they protected them and fired tear gas at anyone who approached,” he said.

The clashes on Saturday in Al Mughayir left at least three Palestinians wounded, one critically, the Palestinian health ministry said.

“There’s no order, there’s no safety,” said Na’asan Na’asan, 28, a resident of Al Mughayir. “They’re shooting at us — why isn’t there anyone to protect us?”

A veteran Israeli photojournalist, Shaul Golan, 74, said in an interview that Israeli settlers also caught and beat him, before destroying his equipment, after he tried to film them in Al Mughayir. Some of them were masked, while others were wearing Israeli military uniforms, he added.

“I begged the soldiers there to help me, to save me,” said Mr. Golan. “But then I realized that they weren’t really soldiers — they were working with them.”

The Biden administration has said Israel must do more to clamp down on violence by extremist Israeli settlers, and it has imposed sanctions on several whom it said were involved in attacks on Palestinians. Israeli leaders denounced that move as interference in the country’s internal affairs.

As Israeli troops and police officers searched for Binyamin on Friday afternoon, armed Israeli settlers burst into Al Mughayir, setting buildings and cars on fire, said Mr. Abu Aliya. In video circulated by Yesh Din, smoke can be seen billowing from some burning cars and buildings.

In a statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel decried Binyamin’s “heinous murder” and vowed that Israel would “close accounts” with whomever killed him. He did not explicitly mention the settler rampages, instead telling the Israeli public to “allow the security forces to conduct their work unmolested” as they investigate the killing.

Yair Lapid, the leader of Israel’s parliamentary opposition, similarly condemned the teenager’s murder. But he also denounced the settler attacks, saying “the violent riots by settlers are a dangerous violation of the law, and they are hampering the forces operating on the ground.”

The Israeli military confirmed that multiple “violent riots” had taken place in the area during the search efforts on Friday. At one point, “rocks were hurled” at Israeli soldiers, leading them to open fire in response, the Israeli military said. The Israeli police and soldiers had also removed Israeli settlers who had entered Al Mughayir, the military said.

Israeli soldiers were in the area “even before the settlers arrived,” Mr. Na’asan said, but did not block them from entering the village and torching buildings and cars. It was not immediately clear how Jihad Abu Aliya, the village resident, was killed.

Human rights groups have long charged that the Israeli authorities do not do enough to prevent violent attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, and that the perpetrators are rarely arrested. An Israeli police spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment as to whether any Israelis had been arrested during the incident.

Last February, an attack by Israeli settlers devastated the Palestinian town of Huwara in the northern West Bank. At least one Palestinian was killed and 390 were wounded in the riot, according to Palestinian officials, in which Israelis burned a number of buildings and cars while terrified Palestinians fled burning homes.


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