West Bank settlers attack Palestinians as missing Israeli teen’s body is found

The body of a missing Israeli teenager thought to have been killed in a Palestinian attack was found in the occupied West Bank on Saturday in an incident that could trigger further violence.

Israel called 14-year-old Binyamin Achimair’s death “a terrorist attack”, and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged the assailants would be found.

The teenager’s disappearance sparked attacks by Jewish settlers who entered a nearby Palestinian village and set houses and cars ablaze despite a plea from defence minister Yoav Gallant who urged Israelis not to take the law into their own hands.

Palestinian Jehad Abu Alia was killed and 25 others were wounded in the attack on Mughayir, Palestinian health officials said. Israeli troops delayed the ambulance carrying the 26-year-old man’s body for burial, witnesses said.

Settlers blocked entrances to two more towns in the area on Saturday and threw stones at passing vehicles, Palestinian official news agency Wafa said.

In the village of Douma, Israeli settlers set fire to around 15 homes and 10 farms, the head of the local village council, Slieman Dawabsheh, told Associated Press, saying he had been there. “The army came but unfortunately, the army were protecting the settlers,” he said.

Mourners carry the body of Jehad Abu Alia, who was killed in violence following the death of an Israeli teenager (AP)

Hamas issued a statement urging Palestinians in the West Bank to fight against what it described as “settler militias”.

Violence in the West Bank was already on the rise before the Gaza war broke out on 7 October with Hamas’ shock attack in southern Israel. It has since increased, with stepped-up Israeli raids and Palestinian street attacks.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killing of Achimair.

According to Israeli media, he was last seen leaving the settler outpost of Malachei Shalom early Friday to tend to livestock nearby. The sheep returned to the outpost hours later without him, reports said.

Israeli settlers set fire to Palestinian villages in the West Bank on Saturday (AP)

Israel’s Channel 13 TV said Achimair’s body was discovered by a drone.

Mr Netanyahu said: “We will get to the murderers and their helpers as we do to anyone who harms the citizens of the state of Israel.”

In 2014, the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank escalated tensions and eventually ignited a 50-day Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, at the time the deadliest round of fighting between the two sides.

While Israel has established scores of settlements across the occupied West Bank, the outposts are not authorised, though the government gives them tacit support. The international community overwhelmingly considers all West Bank settlements illegal and obstacles to peace.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report

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