Israeli-American girl, 13, fatally stabbed in West Bank home


A 13-year-old Israeli-American girl was stabbed to death in her bedroom Thursday morning in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces said.

Hallel Yaffa Ariel was sleeping when a Palestinian teenager entered the house in the settlement near Hebron and killed her, authorities said.

“Just like any teenager on summer holiday, my daughter was asleep, calm, relaxed. A terrorist murderer came and murdered her in her bed,” her mother, Rena Ariel, told Israel’s Channel 2.

Security guards on the settlement entered the home and found the suspect still inside, the IDF said. During a fight, one security guard was stabbed, and the intruder was shot and killed.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the attacker as Mohammed Tarayra, 17, from Bani Naim, a village east of Hebron.

In response to the attack, the IDF sealed off access to Bani Naim to everyone except humanitarian and medical workers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the world to condemn the attack.

“The horrifying murder of a young girl in her bed underscores the bloodlust and inhumanity of the incitement-driven terrorists that we are facing. The entire nation deeply identifies with the family’s pain and declares to the murderers: You will not break us. We will continue to take strong and determined action against terrorism everywhere and at all times,” he said in a statement.

Netanyahu said he would revoke work permits for members of Tarayra’s family and has started the process of seeking approval to demolish Tarayra’s home, a not uncommon practice by Israeli authorities.

The girl was a dual national of Israel and the United States.

U.S. Secretary of State spokesman John Kirby said, “This brutal act of terrorism is simply unconscionable. We extend our deepest condolences to her family. We also understand another individual who was responding to the attack was wounded by the attacker. We extend our hopes for a quick and full recovery.”

Hallel Ariel was a student in eighth grade. Hundreds attended her funeral Thursday evening in Hebron, a city with longstanding tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

Kiryat Arba is a settlement in the southern West Bank near Hebron. Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal by many in the international community.

Sari Bashi, Israel-Palestine director of Human Rights Watch, said, “The fact that settlements are illegal under international law does not make their inhabitants, children as well as their parents, subject to lethal attack. At the same time, the killing provides no legal justification for the Israeli government to punish the alleged attacker’s family members.”