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An Israeli teenager whose disappearance sparked riots by Israeli settlers in the West Bank was found dead on Saturday, Israeli authorities announced, threatening to further inflame tensions in the territory occupied by Israel.

Dozens of Israelis and Palestinians were injured Saturday during clashes in several locations in the West Bank, the Israeli army said in a statement. Israeli extremists stormed at least two villages in the territory, attempting to burn Palestinian properties and confronting residents, according to Palestinian witnesses.

Binyamin Achimair, 14, left a West Bank agricultural settlement on Friday morning to herd sheep, but never returned, according to Israeli police. Israeli forces later found his body and the army said, without providing evidence, that he had been “murdered in a terrorist attack.”

After Binyamin’s disappearance on Friday, armed Israeli settlers stormed a Palestinian village near Ramallah, burning several buildings and cars, according to Palestinian officials and Yesh Din, an Israeli rights group. One Palestinian – Jihad Abu Aliya – was killed in the clashes and at least 25 others injured, according to the village mayor, Amin Abu Aliya.

Binyamin’s death and the possibility of further Israeli retaliation could intensify violence in the West Bank, where about 500,000 Israeli settlers live alongside about 2.7 million Palestinians. More than 400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the Hamas attack on October 7 sparked the Israeli campaign in Gaza, according to the United Nations.

The Israeli army announced on Saturday that it would reinforce its forces in the West Bank with additional companies and police officers.

Israeli mob attacks resumed Saturday in Al Mughayir and Duma, a neighboring Palestinian village, according to an Israeli security official and Palestinian witnesses. Israeli settlers, some armed, entered the villages, the official added, and reportedly opened fire.

In Douma, the attackers “covered the entire village,” with some armed, said Naser Dawabsheh, a village resident. They set several buildings and cars on fire, sending a dense cloud of smoke overhead, he added. Israeli soldiers “did not disperse the settlers, they protected them and fired tear gas at anyone who approached,” he said.

Saturday’s clashes in Al Mughayir left at least three Palestinians injured, including one seriously, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

“There is no order, there is no security,” said Na’asan Na’asan, 28, a resident of Al Mughayir. “They are shooting at us – why is there no one to protect us?

A veteran Israeli photojournalist, Shaul Golan, 74, said in an interview that Israeli settlers also grabbed and beat him, before destroying his equipment, after he tried to film them in Al Mughayir. Some of them were masked, while others wore Israeli military uniforms, he added.

“I begged the soldiers to help me, to save me,” Mr. Golan said. “But then I realized they weren’t really soldiers: they were working with them.”

The Biden administration has said Israel must do more to quell violence by extremist Israeli settlers, and it has imposed sanctions on several of them it says were involved in attacks against Palestinians. Israeli leaders denounced the move as interference in the country’s internal affairs.

As Israeli troops and police searched for Binyamin on Friday afternoon, armed Israeli settlers stormed into Al Mughayir, burning buildings and cars, Mr. Abu Aliya said. In a video released by Yesh Din, smoke can be seen coming from some burning cars and buildings.

In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the “heinous murder” of Binyamin and promised that Israel would “close accounts” with whoever killed him. He did not explicitly mention the settler rampages, but instead asked the Israeli public to “allow security forces to carry out their work unmolested” while they investigate the killing.

Yair Lapid, the leader of Israel’s parliamentary opposition, also condemned the teenager’s killing. But he also denounced the settler attacks, saying that “the violent riots perpetrated by the settlers constitute a dangerous violation of the law and hamper the forces operating on the ground.”

The Israeli military confirmed that multiple “violent riots” took place in the area during Friday’s search. At one point, “stones were thrown” at Israeli soldiers, leading them to open fire in response, the Israeli military said. Israeli police and soldiers also expelled Israeli settlers who had entered Al Mughayir, the army said.

Israeli soldiers were in the area “even before the settlers arrived,” Mr. Na’asan said, but they did not stop them from entering the village or burning buildings and cars. It is unclear how Jihad Abu Aliya, the village resident, was killed.

Human rights groups have long accused Israeli authorities of not doing enough to prevent violent attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and that the perpetrators of these attacks are rarely arrested. An Israeli police spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on whether any Israelis had been arrested during the incident.

Last February, an attack by Israeli settlers devastated the Palestinian town of Huwara, in the northern West Bank. At least one Palestinian was killed and 390 others were injured in the riot, according to Palestinian officials, in which Israelis set fire to a number of buildings and cars as terrified Palestinians fled their burning homes .

News Source : www.nytimes.com
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