Relatives of Israeli settler killed in West Bank shooting call for settlement to be rebuilt

Funeral of Yehuda Dimentman (25) also hears calls from far-right for action on Homesh

Relatives of an Israeli settler killed in a West Bank shooting and right-wing politicians have called on Israel’s government to rebuild the settlement of Homesh in response to the attack.

Yehuda Dimentman (25) was killed when at least two Palestinian gunmen opened fire on a car travelling between the site of Homesh and a nearby settlement on Thursday night. The two other settlers in the vehicle Mr Dimentman was travelling in were lightly hurt.

Homesh was one of four settlements in the northern West Bank dismantled by then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's government as part of the 2005 Gaza disengagement plan that saw Israel withdraw from Gaza. However, in recent years settlers have established a yeshiva religious seminary at the site, and Mr Dimentman was returning from studies at the seminary when the ambush occurred.

Hundreds attended the funeral of the victim on Friday in Jerusalem, and in his eulogy, the head of the far-right Religious Zionism party, Bezalel Smotrich, said Homesh should be strengthened and rebuilt as a response to the attack.

He said he believed God “sent Yehuda to us to instruct us to return to Homesh, to build the yeshiva and to strengthen Torah at Homesh”.

Grieving relatives made similar calls.

The head of his yeshiva, Rabbi Elishama Cohen, called Mr Dimentman "a soldier of the Torah", adding that "Homesh will say loudly and clearly that this place is fully ours".

Reprisal action

Settlers further south in the West Bank have already taken matters into their own hands, setting up a new hilltop outpost near the city of Hebron called Nofei Yehuda, named after the murder victim.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian couple in a West Bank village were badly beaten in the middle of the night after a group of Israelis claiming to be soldiers entered their home. At least six homes in another Palestinian village were vandalised. Police suspect extremist settlers in both incidents but no arrests were made.

Earlier this week Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett dismissed settler violence as an “insignificant phenomenon” after Israel’s public security minister Omer Bar Lev discussed the issue with a senior American official.

The Israeli military deployed three additional battalions to the West Bank and troops arrested a number of Palestinians as the manhunt for the gunmen continued.

Mr Bennett vowed that the army would track down the perpetrators.

“Security forces will soon get their hands on the terrorists. Justice will be served,” he said.

No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for Thursday night's shooting, but a number of militant organisations, including Hamas, which controls Gaza, praised the attack.

“This operation proves yet again that our heroic people will continue their struggle until they expel the occupier,” said Hamas spokesman Hazim Qasim.