The body of a 21-year-old Israeli soldier, bound and bludgeoned and bearing rope burns around the neck, has been found in a gully in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the military announced Monday night.
The soldier, identified as Akiva Shaltiel, was apparently the seventh Jewish victim of political violence here in less than six months, military sources said.
The announcement of the soldier’s death came on the eve of a planned demonstration by West Bank Jewish settlers already up in arms over the rash of violence. The settlers have called for a new Jewish town to be established in the West Bank for every Jew killed by Arabs.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin has said the army will stop today’s demonstration. Nevertheless, the settlers said they intend to go ahead with it. They plan to march from the tomb of Abraham, in the predominantly Arab city of Hebron, to a controversial new settlement called Tel Rumeida.
The army said Arab villagers found Shaltiel’s body Sunday north of Bet Arye, a tiny settlement due east of Tel Aviv and just over the so-called Green Line that was Israel’s border until the Six-Day War of 1967, when Israeli forces seized the West Bank from Jordan.
The soldier was last seen Saturday night as he left his base in central Israel headed for his home in Or Aqiva, near the coast north of the ruins of the ancient Roman seaport of Caesarea. Military sources said he is believed to have been hitchhiking.
A woman soldier, Hadass Kedmi, was killed in similar circumstances last December. Just eight days ago, a West Bank settler was killed at the entrance to the Ramallah market by an unknown assailant who ran up and shot him in the head. The incident occurred only a few hundred yards from where a reserve soldier on guard duty was shot to death in early February. Four days before that, an Israeli died of burns after a Molotov cocktail was hurled into his car near Qalqiliya, on the pre-1967 border between Jordan and Israel.
The series of killings began in mid-October of last year, when the bodies of a young man and woman who had been hiking in a ravine near Jerusalem were found tied to a tree; both had been shot in the head. A Palestinian Arab from the Dahaisha refugee camp near Bethlehem has confessed to that crime. None of the the other cases has been resolved.