Israeli boy 'lured to death on internet'

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The Independent Online

A 16-year-old Israeli youth who was apparently lured to the West Bank through an internet exchange of messages with an Arab woman was found shot to death, Palestinian and Israeli officials said yesterday.

A 16-year-old Israeli youth who was apparently lured to the West Bank through an internet exchange of messages with an Arab woman was found shot to death, Palestinian and Israeli officials said yesterday.

The teenager, from the coastal town of Ashkelon, went missing from his house on Tuesday. He took along a substantial sum of money and travelled to Ramallah, where he was killed on Wednesday.

Israeli soldiers found his body and handed it over to some Palestinians, believing he was an Arab. A Palestinian security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the victim was shot several times.

The body was transferred to Israel on Thursday evening. Israeli reports described the youth as a bright, quiet pupil and a "computer freak" who had been exchanging e-mail messages with somebody he believed to be a Palestinian woman. Israel army radio suggested he was deliberately lured to Ramallah, but there were also reports that he was seen in the company of an Arab woman prior to being killed by masked attackers.

The Palestinian Authority denounced the killing, saying it condemned attacks against civilians in spite of the continuing Israeli-Palestinian violence. The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, said it was a "vile killing by murderers lacking a human image," adding that such murder made peace negotiations even more difficult.

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