Netanyahu slams ‘vicious terrorists’ over 19yo soldier murder, Hamas praises ‘heroic operation’

Israeli troops secure the area where a body of a soldier with stab wounds was found near Gush Etzion settlement in the West Bank, Thursday, Aug, 8, 2019. (AP)

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the killing of a 19-year-old soldier in the West Bank as a terror attack as Palestinian terror groups praised the “heroic and bold” killing.

Dvir Sorek was found dead with stab wounds in the Gush Etzion region of Judea and Samaria on Thursday, the military said. 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, he was neither armed nor in uniform.

“We know that the Land of Israel is bought in agony,” Netanyahu said during a visit to the Beit El settlement, where he suggested applying sovereignty to the West Bank settlements, a controversial policy that will likely draw criticism as Palestinians view West Bank, in its entirety, as the foundation of their future statehood.

“Today another one of our sons fell. He was from a family that has already made a heavy sacrifice for the Land of Israel,” he continued.

“These vicious terrorists: They come to uproot; we come to plant. They come to destroy; we come to build. Our hands will reach out and we will deepen our roots in our homeland – in all parts of it.”

“These vicious terrorists: They come to uproot; we come to plant. They come to destroy; we come to build. Our hands will reach out and we will deepen our roots in our homeland – in all parts of it.”

— Benjamin Netanyahu

It remains unclear who perpetrated the attack, but the Islamic militant group Hamas celebrated the murder.

“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 praised the killing as “heroic and bold.”

“We salute the hero fighters, sons of our people, who carried out the heroic operation which killed a soldier of the occupation army.”

— Hamas

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The death of the young soldier comes just over a month before Israel’s parliament elections, with Netanyahu’s right-wing allies calling for further West Bank settlement construction and a heavy handed response.

The Israeli forces raided 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 additional troops are being called to the West Bank.

Netanyahu said in a statement that security forces were “in pursuit now in order to capture the despicable terrorist and bring him to account.”

Israeli troops secure the area where a body of a soldier with stab wounds was found near Gush Etzion settlement in the West Bank, Thursday, Aug, 8, 2019.

Israeli troops secure the area where a body of a soldier with stab wounds was found near Gush Etzion settlement in the West Bank, Thursday, Aug, 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

President Reuven Rivlin offered his condolences and said the security forces were “pursuing the murderers and will not rest until we find them.”

“Our prayers this morning are with the family of the murdered soldier and our hearts grieve for the life cut short,” Rivlin said. “We fight terrorism without compromise to ensure the security of our people.”

The body of the soldier was found in the same area as the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers by Palestinian militants in the summer of 2014. The incident back then sparked a war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Author: Lukas Mikelionis

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