The Israeli army said today it had arrested a young Palestinian suspected of killing an Israeli at her home in a West Bank settlement.
The suspect, whose age and identity were not given, was from a village close to the Otniel settlement where Dafna Meir, 38, was stabbed to death Sunday after she fought to defend her children, the military said in a statement.
While Sunday’s killing was part of a months-long wave of violence, it was the first inside a Jewish settlement home in the occupied West Bank and triggered fears that the unrest was worsening and that Israel would impose a harsh security crackdown on Palestinians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signalled further security measures yesterday, pledging to “strengthen the communities” after the deadly stabbing in the Otniel settlement near the flashpoint city of Hebron in the southern West Bank.
“Whoever tries to harm us, we will bring him to justice,” Netanyahu said. “In the end he will be found and he will pay the full price.”
Meir was a 38-year-old nurse and mother of six. At least some of her children, aged four to 17, were home at the time of the attack, but were not hurt.
Her funeral in Jerusalem yesterday was attended by hundreds, including Israeli politicians and Jewish settlers carrying rifles. Meir’s death brought the toll in the recent violence to 24 Israelis and 155 Palestinians killed since October 1.
Many of the Palestinians killed have been attackers, while others have been shot dead by Israeli forces during protests and clashes.
Israel’s government had already come under heavy pressure over the spate of attacks and Sunday’s killing provoked fresh outrage.
Most of the stabbings have occurred in public places, including checkpoints, junctions and entrances to Jerusalem’s Old City, and they have rarely been fatal.
Many of the Palestinian attackers have been young people, including teenagers. A number of them have attempted attacks with kitchen knives in what some analysts have described as virtual suicide missions.