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Mourners carry the body of Jehad Abu Alia during his funeral in the West Bank village of al-Mughayyir yesterday. A second funeral for a teenager is expected to be held today. Alamy Stock Photo
West Bank

Palestinians to bury settler attack victim as West Bank tensions soar

Another funeral of a settler attack victim is expected to take place today, after a man was laid to rest yesterday.

A FUNERAL IS expected today for a man Palestinian officials say was killed by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, where the murder of an Israeli teenager sparked a wave of violence.

After Benjamin Achimeir, a 14-year-old Israeli, was reported missing near Ramallah on Friday, hundreds of Jewish settlers backed by Israeli forces raided nearby Palestinian villages, torching cars and homes, and left at least two villagers dead and dozens wounded.

The attacks escalated in multiple villages on Saturday after Achimeir’s body was found near the Malachei Hashalom settlement outpost.

properties-of-palestinian-villagers-are-set-on-fire-by-israeli-settlers-in-the-west-bank-village-of-al-mughayyir-saturday-april-13-2024-israels-army-says-the-body-of-a-missing-israeli-teen-has-be roperties of Palestinian villagers are set on fire by Israeli settlers in the West Bank village of al-Mughayyir. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The mayor of nearby Palestinian village, Amin Abu Alyah, told AFP that “dozens of settlers” had attacked it and burnt “everything they find in front of them. They burnt a house, a bulldozer and a number of vehicles.”

AFP journalists reported Jewish settlers, who were part of a search party for Achimeir, firing shots and torching homes and cars while residents responded by throwing stones.

One Palestinian, Jihad Abu Alia, was killed in the violence, with his funeral held yesterday, while 25 were wounded, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Mustafa condemned the attacks and urged the authorities to help the people of Al-Mughayyir.

The violence spread to other parts of the West Bank, with Suleiman Dawabsha, the mayor of Duma near Nablus, telling AFP that Israeli troops and settlers had set fire to more than 15 houses and 10 farms in his village.

In Beitin, a village east of Ramallah, a Palestinian teenager, aged 17, was killed, the health ministry said.

The funeral is expected to take place today. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that Israeli forces were pursuing Achimeir’s killers “and all those who collaborated with them”.

“The heinous murder of the boy Binyamin Achimair is a serious crime,” he said.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant had warned against “revenge” attacks, saying they would make the security forces’ jobs more difficult.

“The law must not be taken into one’s own hands,” Gallant posted on social media.

Meanwhile, Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid also criticised the violence, saying “violent riots of the settlers are a dangerous violation of the law and interfere with the security forces.”

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis live in West Bank settlements considered illegal under international law.

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

Francesca Albanese, the United Nations special rapporteur on the rights situation in the Palestinian territories, urged the UN to “authorise 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.

© Agence France-Presse