Sunday 18 March 2018

Five settlers die in West Bank knife massacre

ARON HELLER in Itamar, West Bank

IsraelI security forces were last night joined by forces from from the Palestinian Authority in the hunt for the perpetrators of a grisly murder of a Jewish family of five in a remote West Bank settlement.

Two young children, a baby and their parents were knifed to death as they slept.

Another family member, a 12-year-old girl, was away at a youth-group function when the attack occurred.

She arrived home to discover the carnage and then alerted authorities.

Israeli forces set up checkpoints throughout the area surrounding the Itamar settlement in the northern West Bank and were still sweeping the region late last night.

Military officials said they had made some arrests, but wouldn't provide details.

The governor of the nearby Palestinian city of Nablus, Jibril Bakri, said Palestinian security forces were also searching for suspects.

It was a rare instance of the two sides both searching for militant suspects, though Israeli forces and those of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank do co-operate on security issues.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a mostly defunct Palestinian militant group, took responsibility for the attack. However, it frequently claims to be behind attacks that it didn't do in the hope of raising its profile.

"Violence does not justify violence, we condemn it completely, whoever does it and whoever the victims are," Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said.

Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, demanded Palestinians stop incitement "that is going on every day in their schools, in their mosques, in the media outlets they control".

"It is time to stop this double-speak, because the Palestinian Authority speaks peace outwards but allows incitement inwards," he said in a speech yesterday.

In Gaza, a Hamas official applauded the attack and local residents celebrated the killing of the settlers.

TV footage from the scene showed children's toys covered in blood and furniture tipped over. Israeli officials said at least one Palestinian militant infiltrated the settlement, entered the family home and stabbed the parents and three of their children, ages 11, three, and four months, as they slept.

Two young children asleep in another part of the house survived.

The bloody nature of the attack immediately raised concerns about Jewish retribution. Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said he would file a complaint with the UN over the attack. and that he expects "worldwide condemnation of the satanic murder of an entire family."

Sunday Independent

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