Palestinian man arrested on suspicion of killing Israeli teen in West Bank attack

In joint statement, security organizations say Ahmed Dawabsha nabbed from home in Palestinian village of Duma, admitted to having killed Benjamin Achimeir, 14

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

14-year-old Benjamin Achimeir, who went missing in the West Bank on April 12, 2024 and was found murdered a day later. (Courtesy)
14-year-old Benjamin Achimeir, who went missing in the West Bank on April 12, 2024 and was found murdered a day later. (Courtesy)

A West Bank Palestinian was arrested overnight on suspicion of killing an Israeli teen earlier this month in what authorities described as a terror attack, security officials said Monday.

Ahmed Dawabsha, 21, a resident of the West Bank town of Duma near Ramallah, is alleged to have been involved in the murder of 14-year-old Benjamin Achimeir, who was found dead on April 13, a day after setting out from an illegal West Bank outpost to herd sheep.

Dawabshe was arrested in Duma by officers from the police’s Yamam counterterrorism unit after the Shin Bet and IDF led an “intelligence and operational effort in an attempt to trace the identity of the terrorist,” the three bodies said in a joint statement.

Dawabsha “implicated himself” in the attack near the outpost of Malachei Shalom during an initial interrogation, the statement claimed.

Achimeir went missing on April 12 after setting out in the early morning hours from a farm near Malachei Shalom to go shepherding. Hours later, the sheep returned without him. His body was found a day later, and the killing was termed a terror attack.

Amid the searches for his body, Israeli settlers rampaged in al-Mughayyir, a Palestinian village next to Malachei Shalom. The settlers set fire to houses and cars and sparked clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. A Palestinian man was killed and dozens of others were injured during the clashes.

IDF troops during the search for Benjamin Achimeir in the West Bank, April 12, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The day after Achimeir’s body was found, there were reports of renewed clashes between settlers and Palestinians in the towns of Beitin and Duma, close to Ramallah.

Clashes also ensued in al-Mughayyir, where six Palestinians were injured, one of them critically after being shot in the head, according to the Palestinian Authority official news outlet Wafa.

Some settlers have begun adopting shepherding as a way of expanding their footprint in the West Bank, though the wide range of the animals’ grazing activity sometimes brings Israeli extremists and Palestinians into close, friction-filled contact.

The Dawabsha name is fairly common in Duma and there was no known link between Ahmed Dawabsha and a Palestinian family with the same surname from Duma targeted in a devastating 2015 firebombing by Jewish terrorists. The attack killed parents Riham and Saad Dawabsha, along with their 18-month-old son, Ali Saad. Only the couple’s son Ahmed, who was 5 at the time, survived the terror attack, with extensive burns.

14-year-old Benjamin Achimeir, who went missing in the West Bank on April 12, 2024 and was found dead a day later. (Israel Police)

Tensions in the West Bank have remained high since October 7, when terrorists burst through the Gaza border into Israel in a Hamas-led attack, killing nearly 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and seizing 253 hostages.

Since October 7, troops arrested some 3,600 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 1,600 affiliated with Hamas, according to the IDF. According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, more than 480 West Bank Palestinians have been killed in that time.

In the same period, at least 13 Israelis, among them two members of security forces, have been killed by Palestinians in the West Bank, according to an Israeli tally.

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