Boy whose disappearance sparked West Bank settler rampage found dead

Israeli army says Binyamin Achimair, who went missing on Friday morning, was murdered in a 'terrorist attack'

A Palestinian is taken for treatment to the Palestine Medical Complex in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday after being wounded in a rampage by Israeli settlers. AP Photo
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The Israeli military said it had found the body of a teenager whose disappearance on Friday prompted an attack by dozens of settlers on a village near the West Bank city of Ramallah which killed at least one Palestinian.

In a statement, the Israeli army said that the body of 14-year-old Binyamin Achimair was located in the area of Malachei HaShalom by security forces.

It said he went missing on Friday morning and was murdered in a “terrorist attack”.

“Security forces are continuing the pursuit after those suspected of carrying out the attack. The security agencies send their heartfelt condolences to the family,” it added.

A Palestinian was killed and 30 others injured when dozens of Israeli settlers stormed the village of Al Mughayyir, some 500 metres west of Malachi Hashalom, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Friday in search for the teenager, shooting and setting houses and cars on fire, Palestinian officials said.

The Israeli army said that air, ground, police and other forces were involved in the search, “blocking roads and scanning the area”.

Thousands of people from across the country joined them, said Israel Ganz, head of the Binyamin Regional Council, which provides services to Israeli settlements in the area.

Hannah, sister of the teenager, said her brother was familiar with the area, where he often herded sheep.

Armed with guns and stones, the settlers stormed the village of Al Mughayyir.

In the ensuing violence, at least one person was killed and 30 wounded, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said at least 10 people were wounded, most of them by live fire, and that some ambulances trying to reach the area were shot at.

The head of Al Mughayyir's local council, Ameen Abu Alia, said settlers had attacked the village previously but Friday's raid was the most intense, with about 400 armed settlers, backed by military forces, firing at residents, vandalising the village and setting several houses and cars ablaze.

He said they were still assessing the damage when the Israeli military sealed off the village, placing a checkpoint at its only entrance.

Late on Friday, the army said security forces had moved to disperse “violent riots” in the area, adding that “rocks were hurled at … soldiers, who responded with fire”.

“Forces operated to withdraw Israeli civilians who entered the town of Al Mughayyir,” it said.

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

The army said one soldier was taken to hospital after being hurt “as a result of the rock hurling”.

Earlier on Friday, two Palestinians were killed in confrontations with Israeli forces in the northern West Bank, Palestinian medics and the military said.

The military said the target of the soldiers' raid was Mohammed Daraghmeh, a local Hamas commander. It said Mr Daraghmeh was killed in a shoot-out with Israeli soldiers who discovered weapons in his car.

The army alleged that Mr Daraghmeh had been planning attacks on Israeli targets but provided no evidence. It also said assailants hurled explosives at soldiers.

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.

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

Faced with the mounting violence, Washington and some of its allies have for the first time imposed sanctions on some settlers.

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 Israel-Hamas war started when Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians, in a surprise attack and incursion into southern Israel. Around 250 people were seized as hostages by the militants and taken to Gaza.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 33,634 Palestinians in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to Gaza's Health Ministry.

Updated: April 13, 2024, 12:37 PM