West Bank: Body of Israeli shepherd, 14 found in West Bank

  • By Thomas Mackintosh
  • BBC News

Image source, Israel Police

Image caption, Benjamin Achimeir, who went missing in the West Bank on 12 April was found dead a day later

Israel’s army says it has found the body of a 14-year-old shepherd in the occupied West Bank, a day after he went missing.

Benjamin Achimeir had taken a flock of sheep out to graze from Malachi Hashalom, a settler outpost near Ramallah on Friday morning.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu called Achimeir’s death a “heinous murder”.

A Palestinian man was shot overnight during an Israeli search for the teenager.

It is not clear whether the man – Jehad Abu Alia, 26 – was shot by an armed settler or an Israeli soldier.

Israeli media reported Achimeir left “Gal Farm” in the settler outpost of Malachei Shalom early on Friday, and had not been seen since.

He had been grazing sheep, and the sheep returned to the farm without him, police said.

Achimeir’s sister Hannah, quoted by AFP news agency, said he was familiar with the area.

“The heinous murder of the boy… is a serious crime,” Mr Netanyahu said in a statement reacting to the teenager’s body being found near Malachi Hashalom.

Israeli forces “are in an intensive pursuit after the heinous murderers and all those who collaborated with them”, he added.

Separately, Israel’s defence minister warned against revenge attacks following Achimeir’s death.

Posting on social media, Yoav Gallant wrote: “Let the security forces act quickly in the hunt for the terrorists – revenge actions will make it difficult for our fighters in their mission – the law must not be taken into one’s own hands.”

Image source, Anadolu/Getty Images

Image caption, Cars were set ablaze when settlers stormed al-Mughayyir

Overnight angry settlers, armed with guns and stones, rampaged through a village in the West Bank during an Israeli search for the teenager.

Houses and cars in al-Mughayyir, near Ramallah, were set ablaze as thousands of people took part in the search for Achimeir, said Israel Ganz, head of the Binyamin Regional Council which provides services to Israeli settlements in the area.

Israeli troops later intervened.The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) says its troops, and not settlers, opened fire at stone-throwing Palestinians as “violent disturbances erupted at several points in the area”.

Troops managed to remove the settlers who had entered the village, it said.

“As of this moment, the violent riots have been dispersed and there are no Israeli civilians present within the town,” the IDF said.

The Palestinian prime minister, Mohammad Mustafa, has condemned the attack.

Foreign governments including Israel’s closest ally, the US, have repeatedly raised concerns over a surge in settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank since Israel began its military campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

Hamas’s deadly attacks on October 7, which triggered Israel’s military action, killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Hamas gunmen also took more than 250 people hostage – Israel says that of 130 hostages still in Gaza, at least 34 are dead.

More than 33,600 Gazans, the majority of them civilians, have been killed during Israel’s retaliatory campaign, the Hamas-run health ministry says.

Israel has built about 160 settlements housing some 700,000 Jews since it occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war.

The vast majority of the international community considers the settlements illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

The Palestinian health ministry says at least 460 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces or settlers in the West Bank since 7 October. Israeli sources say at least 13 Israelis have been killed there by Palestinians in the same period.

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