Palestinian fatally stabs Israeli girl

Hillel Yaffe Ariel, 13, was stabbed to death in her bed in the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba.
Family photograph

Hillel Yaffe Ariel, 13, was stabbed to death in her bed in the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba.

A Palestinian youth jumped over the security fence into a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, entered a family home and stabbed to death a 13-year-old Israeli girl as she slept in her bedroom, Israeli officials said.

Security cameras caught the assailant climbing the fence, but officers arrived at the house in the settlement of Kiryat Araba minutes too late. The girl, identified as Hallel Yaffe Ariel, had already been stabbed several times. She died on her way to a hospital.

The Associated Press reported that Hallel was a US citizen.

An Israeli military spokesman said the girl was attacked in her bedroom.
MUSSA ISSA QAWASMA

An Israeli military spokesman said the girl was attacked in her bedroom.

Her attacker, identified as Mohammad Tra'ayra, 19, from the nearby village of Bani Na'im, was shot dead at the scene, a statement from the Israeli military said.

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The attack is the latest bloodshed in a wave of violence between Palestinians and Israelis that began nine months ago but has tapered off recently. It also brought calls for increased security and more intensive building in Israeli settlements, which Palestinians and most of the international community condemn as illegal.

Later on Thursday, two Israelis - a middle-aged man and an elderly woman - were stabbed and wounded, one critically, in the coastal town of Netanya. The assailant, a Palestinian from the West Bank town of Tukarem, was shot dead at the scene, Israeli authorities said.

Israeli media published a disturbing video of the attack in Kiryat Arba. In the footage, Hallel's's father, Amichai Ariel, is seen arriving at his family home after the attack and finding his daughter bleeding on her bedroom floor. The family is related to right-wing Israeli minister of agriculture Uri Ariel.

"My daughter was simply asleep, calm and serene. She was happy, and a terrorist came to her bed, in Kiryat Arba, and killed her," said Hallel's mother, Rina. "I want everyone to see our pain and to come console us. Hallel, may your memory be a blessing."

Immediately after the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a security briefing with his new defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman. It was decided to seal off entry to and exit from the assailant's village and to revoke permits to enter Israel for work for all members of his clan. Procedures for demolishing his family home have already begun, a statement from the prime minister's bureau said.

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"The horrifying murder of a young girl in her bed underscores the bloodlust and inhumanity of the incitement-driven terrorists that we are facing," said Netanyahu.

He called on the Palestinian leadership to condemn the murders and "take immediate action to stop incitement."

US officials also condemned the killing. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms the outrageous terrorist attack this morning in the West Bank where a 13-year-old girl, Hallel Ariel, was stabbed to death in her home," the State Department said in a statement. "This brutal act of terrorism is simply unconscionable."

Roughly 7,800 Israelis live in Kiryat Arba, which sits on the edge of the largest Palestinian city, Hebron. It is not far from one of the main flash points between Israelis and Palestinians: the holy site that Israelis refer to as the Cave of the Patriarchs and Palestinians as the Ibrahimi Mosque.

After Thursday's attack, Yochai Damri, regional council head for Jewish settlements in the Hebron area, called on the government to take tougher action and intensify building in Israeli settlements in the Hebron Hills.

Israel's minister of transportation and intelligence, Israel Katz, urged that the family of the Palestinian assailant be expelled immediately to either Syria or Gaza to try to deter terror. Israel's policy has been to destroy the family homes of the assailants.

"Only the expulsion of families of terrorists can be used as a deterrent against acts of murder, which are incited by young people educated to hate and kill Jews," said the minister, a close confidant of Netanyahu.

Since October 1, 2015, 31 Israelis and two American tourists have been killed in stabbing, shooting and vehicle attacks by Palestinians. More than 190 Palestinians have also been killed by Israeli forces or armed civilians.

 - Washington Post

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