Middle East

Israeli girl stabbed to death by Palestinian inside bedroom

Photo released by Israeli military showing bedroom of Israeli girl stabbed to death at settlement of Kiryat Arba, in the West Bank (30 June 2016) Image copyright IDF
Image caption The Israeli military released a photograph showing Hallel Yaffa Ariel's blood-stained bedroom

An Israeli girl has been stabbed to death at a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank by a Palestinian.

Hallel Yaffa Ariel, 13, who had US citizenship, was attacked as she slept inside her bedroom in Kiryat Arba.

A security guard who responded to the incident was wounded before the attacker was shot dead by other guards.

Later on Thursday, a Palestinian stabbed and injured two Israelis in the coastal city of Netanya before being shot dead by a passing civilian.

The Palestinian health ministry identified the Kiryat Arba assailant as Mohammed Tarayreh, 19, from the nearby village of Bani Naim.

Thirty-four Israelis have now been killed in a wave of knife, gun and car-ramming attacks since October. More than 200 Palestinians - mostly attackers, Israel says - have also been killed in that period.

The assailants who have been killed have been shot either by their victims or by security forces as they carried out attacks. Some attackers have been arrested.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rina Yaffa Ariel mourned over the body of her daughter Hallel at her funeral in Kiryat Arba on Thursday
Image copyright Reuters
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The attacker is said to have breached a security fence near the teenager's home

In Thursday's incident, the attacker infiltrated Kiryat Arba before entering Hallel Ariel's home, which is next to a fence surrounding the settlement.

Israeli media report that the girl was repeatedly stabbed in the upper body.

She was taken in a critical condition to the Shaare Zedek Medical Centre in Jerusalem, where she died shortly after arriving, hospital officials say.

The security guard, believed to be a 30-year-old man, reportedly suffered multiple stab and gunshot wounds when he confronted the attacker. He is in a serious condition at the Hadassah Medical Centre in Ein Karem.

Following the attack, Israeli troops sealed off Bani Naim and began preparations to demolish Tarayreh's home.

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

"The entire nation deeply identifies with the family's pain and declares to the murderers: You will not break us."

The US state department spokesman confirmed the victim had been a US citizen.

Flashpoint city

Adnan Tarayreh, a cousin of the killer, said Mohammed Tarayreh had dropped out of school and had been working in a bakery, the Associated Press news agency reports.

The family, he was quoted as saying, had been surprised by the attack and he speculated that his cousin might have been spurred into action by the death of another cousin killed while attempting to ram his vehicle into Israelis in Kiryat Arba.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption People gathered in Bani Naim to mourn Mohammed Tarayreh
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Israeli troops were seen searching the area after the killing

Kiryat Arba is located on the outskirts of the flashpoint city of Hebron, where many of the recent wave of attacks have taken place.

Also on Thursday, a senior United Nations official cited a long-awaited report by the Middle East Quartet as saying that hopes for peace between Israel and the Palestinians were being severely undermined by three "negative trends".

Nickolay Mladenov told the UN Security Council that they were continuing violence, terrorism and incitement; Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank; and a lack of control of the Gaza Strip by the Palestinian Authority.

The Quartet - which comprises the UN, the European Union, United States and Russia - was likely to release the report on Friday, he said.

The last round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians came to an end amid acrimony in April 2014.

The Palestinians accused Israel of reneging on a deal to free prisoners, while Israel said it would not continue negotiations after the Palestinians decided to bring the militant Islamist Hamas movement into a unity government.