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Israeli forces search for student’s killers

Israeli security forces have launched a major operation to find those responsible for the murder of Dvir Sorek.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) are searching villages in the Hebron area and have increased troop levels across the West Bank to prevent copycat attacks. Palestinian media have reported that IDF soldiers confiscated security camera footage and conducted searches in the village of Beit Fajjar, outside Bethlehem, as part of the efforts to track the suspects. Army Radio reported that Palestinian security forces are also taking part in the search operation.

Sorek was found dead yesterday morning outside a settlement in the Etzion Block, south of Jerusalem. He was enrolled in a military programme at a religious school in Migdal Oz, where he would have served in the IDF both as a soldier and a yeshiva student.

No Palestinian group has claimed responsibility for the murder but Hamas released a statement, saying: “The attack proves Israel’s failure to prevent our resistance, our peoples struggle to end the occupation, continues. The Etzion operation is the greatest response to the talk of attempts to annex the occupied West Bank to the occupation.”

Palestinian Islamic Jihad justified the killing as: “A natural response to the occupation’s terrorism and crimes at the expense of our people, land and holy sites. It is the right of our people to push back against the destruction and demolition of citizens’ homes in Wadi Hummus, a crime that requires a painful and deterring response”.

Yesterday Prime Minister (and Defence Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu visited the scene where Sorek’s body was found and said: “We lost Dvir here, a precious member of the Sorek family that also lost its grandfather years ago. Our hearts are with them and we are embracing them at their difficult moment.”

Sorek’s funeral was held last night in Ofra and residents of the neighbouring Palestinian village of Silwad reportedly set off celebratory fireworks.

The British Ambassador to Israel, Neil Wigan, tweeted yesterday: “I am shocked by the callous murder of Dvir Sorek. My deepest sympathy to his family. I hope those responsible are brought to justice.”