Hundreds of people have attended the funeral of an 18-year-old Israeli soldier who was found dead hours earlier with stab wounds near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the killing as a terror attack and vowed the killers would be brought to justice.
Israeli troops raided a nearby Palestinian village and the military said it was sending reinforcements to the West Bank.
The killing threatened to inflame tensions between Israelis and Palestinians just over a month before Israel’s parliament elections. In response to the incident, Mr Netanyahu’s nationalist allies called for further West Bank settlement construction and a heavy handed response.
The soldier was identified as 18-year-old Dvir Sorek, from the West Bank settlement of Ofra, north of Jerusalem. He was a student at a pre-military Jewish seminary in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, south of Jerusalem. His body was found on the side of a road near the seminary.
Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said the soldier was neither armed nor in uniform when his body was found. He said the military was investigating the circumstances of his death and searching for suspects.
As part of the searches, Israeli jeeps entered the nearby Palestinian village of Beit Fajar, a mile south of where the body was found. Soldiers blocked the road and searched homes.
The military said it was calling up more troops to the West Bank in response to the incident.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Islamic terror group Hamas issued a statement praising the killing of the soldier.
“We salute the hero fighters, sons of our people, who carried out the heroic operation which killed a soldier of the occupation army,” Hamas said in a statement. The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad also hailed the killing as “heroic and bold”.
A video also circulated on Twitter of fireworks reportedly being set off while his funeral was being held.
This is what hate looks like. Fireworks in nearby Palestinian village during funeral for 19 year old Dvir Sorek, slaughtered by Palestinian terrorists. pic.twitter.com/CvEB8M74FU
— Avi Kaner (@AviKaner) August 9, 2019
US President Donald Trump’s Mideast negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, attacked Hamas’ statements, writing on his Twitter account that the militant group “chooses death & destruction over taking care of people they claim to lead”.
Rabbi Shlomo Wilk, head of Mr Sorek’s school, told Israel Radio that the student had gone to Jerusalem to buy presents for the faculty. Rabbi Wilk said the teenager had called a friend and said he would return on time.
“When he was late, we started to worry,” Rabbi Wilk said. “Fairly quickly we understood that something wasn’t right and we got the police involved.”
Mr Sorek’s father, Yoav, is the editor of a Hebrew language Jewish history magazine and the Shiloach Journal of for Policy and Thought.
Mr Sorek was the grandson of a prominent religious nationalist rabbi, Benjamin Herling, one of the forerunners of the settlement movement, who was killed by a Palestinian gunman near the West Bank city of Nablus in 2000.
Anti-settlement group Yachad UK condemned the: “heartbreaking news about a terror attack that took the life of 18-year-old Israeli soldier Dvir Sorek from the settlement of Ofra.
“Dvir was stabbed to death and his body found near Kibbutz Migdal Oz in the West Bank early this morning.
“Our prayers are with Dvir’s family. May he be the last victim of this painful conflict.”
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