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Hunt for Israel teen resumes in West Bank after settler attacks

The damage left from a raid by Israeli settlers in the West Bank village of Al-Mughayyir
The damage left from a raid by Israeli settlers in the West Bank village of Al-Mughayyir - Copyright AFP DAVID GRAY
The damage left from a raid by Israeli settlers in the West Bank village of Al-Mughayyir - Copyright AFP DAVID GRAY

The search for a missing Israeli teenager resumed Saturday 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 on Friday afternoon when Jewish settlers who were part of the manhunt raided the village of Al-Mughayyir, around 500 metres (yards) west of Malachi Hashalom, according to an AFP reporter.

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.

“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 on Friday.

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

– 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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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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