Hunt for Israel teen resumes in West Bank after settler attacks

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Hunt for Israel teen resumes in West Bank after settler attacks

Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Israeli security forces man a checkpoint during a search for a missing Israeli teenager in the village of Mughayir near Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on April 13, 2024. — AFP pic

AL MUGHAYYIR, Palestinian Territories, Apr 13 — The search for a missing Israeli teenager resumed today in the occupied West Bank, where settler attacks on Palestinian villages have left at least one dead and dozens injured, sources on both sides said.

The Israeli army said it was still looking for Benjamin Achimeir, 14, who went missing early on Friday from Malachi Hashalom, an outpost near the city of Ramallah.

With tensions already high due to the Israel-Hamas war in the other Palestinian territory of Gaza, Israeli security forces and hundreds of volunteers formed a huge search party to look for the teen.

Violence erupted yesterday afternoon when Jewish settlers who were part of the manhunt raided the village of Al-Mughayyir, around 500 metres west of Malachi Hashalom, according to an AFP reporter.

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The settlers fired off shots and torched numerous homes and cars in the village, while residents responded by throwing stones, AFP reporters saw.

Mayor Amin Abu Alyah said “settlers raided the town with the excuse of searching for the missing Israeli boy,” adding that “the army arrived to back them up.”

Arafat Abu Alia, a resident of Al-Mughayyir, said the Israeli army had told residents to gather on the outskirts of their village.

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“More than 10 houses and 50 vehicles were burnt,” he told AFP.

At least one person was killed and 25 wounded, the Palestinian health ministry said yesterday.

Overnight, the official Palestinian news agency reported that five Palestinians were injured in another settler attack in the Abu Falah village near Ramallah.

Israeli security forces and volunteers take part in a search for a missing Israeli teenager in the village of Mughayir near Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on April 13, 2024, after an attack by Israeli settlers on the village. — AFP pic

Israeli security forces and volunteers take part in a search for a missing Israeli teenager in the village of Mughayir near Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on April 13, 2024, after an attack by Israeli settlers on the village. — AFP pic

Call for protective deployment

Francesca Albanese, the United Nations special rapporteur on the rights situation in the Palestinian territories, urged the UN to “authorize the deployment of a protective presence in the occupied Palestinian territory, with the explicit mandate to prevent and (repel) attacks against civilians.”

“The Israeli army has abundantly proven unwilling or unable to ensure that task,” she wrote on X.

The West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967, has seen a surge in violence since early last year, which has intensified since the Israel-Hamas war erupted on October 7.

At least 462 Palestinians have since been killed by Israeli troops or settlers in the West Bank, according to official Palestinian figures.

Excluding annexed east Jerusalem, the West Bank is home to around 490,000 Israeli settlers who live in communities considered illegal under international law.

The war in Gaza erupted after an unprecedented Hamas attack on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 33,634 Palestinians in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry. — AFP

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