Israeli forces raid Palestinian village after fatal stabbing of soldier in West Bank
Israeli soldiers raided a Palestinian village in the West Bank on Thursday hours after a 19-year-old soldier was found stabbed to death in the occupied territory.
The Israeli army also said it was sending reinforcements into the West Bank after the killing, which has prompted strong responses from Israeli politicians.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyhau decried the killing as a "terror attack" and vowed to bring the killers to justice.
Fighting once again for their parliamentary seats in a fresh general election to take place in just over a month, the premiers' allies have called for further settlement construction and a heavy handed response in retaliation for the stabbing.
The soldier was identified later on Thursday as 19-year-old Dvir Sorek, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Ofra, north of Jerusalem.
Sorek was a student at a pre-military yeshiva, or Jewish seminary, in Migdal Oz, part of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc wedged between Bethlehem and Hebron.
Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said that the soldier was neither armed nor in uniform when his body was found on the side of a road near the seminary.
The military is currently investigating the circumstances of his death and searching for suspects, Conricus added.
As part of those searches, a column of Israeli jeeps entered the neighbouring Palestinian village of Beit Fajar.
Soldiers blocked the road and searched homes.
While there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Hamas issued a statement praising the killing of the soldier.
"We salute the hero fighters, sons of our people, who carried out the heroic operation which killed a soldier of the occupation army," the group said in a statement.
The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad also hailed the killing as "heroic and bold".
Observers fear the attack and subsequent reaction by Israeli forces in the occupied territories may increase tensions.
Rabbi Shlomo Wilk, head of Sorek's yeshiva, told Israel Radio that the student had gone to Jerusalem to buy presents for the school's faculty. The rabbi said Sorek had called a friend and said he would return on time.
"When he was late, we started to worry," Wilk said. "Fairly quickly we understood that something wasn't right and we got the police involved."
Sorek's father, Yoav, is the editor of a Hebrew language Jewish history magazine and the Shiloach Journal of for Policy and Thought.
Dvir was the grandson of a prominent religious nationalist rabbi, Benjamin Herling, one of the forerunners of the settlement movement, who was killed by a Palestinian gunman near the West Bank city of Nablus in 2000.
Attacks against Israeli army forces and settlers occur sporadically in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.
Ahead of this year's April elections, Netanyahu pledged to annex settlements in the West Bank, a deeply controversial move that would put the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, already hanging by a thread, in fatal jeapordy.
Around 400,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank which are widely condemned in the international community and barred under international law.
Those settlements pockmark the occupied territory, where some 2.6 million Palestinians live.
Israel on Tuesday announced it will advance plans to build more than 2,300 settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, the latest in a surge of such approvals since United States President Donald Trump took office.