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The BBC's Jeremy Cooke in Jerusalem
"The overnight search ended with a grim discovery at dawn"
 real 56k

Palestinian minister for Jerusalem Ziad Abu-Zayyad
"Let's wait and see what are the real reasons as to what happened"
 real 28k

Senior advisor to Ariel Sharon Ra'anan Gissin
"A most despicable crime"
 real 56k

Bassam Eid, Palestinian human rights activist
"There is an escalation of violence from both sides"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 9 May, 2001, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
Israeli teenagers 'stoned to death'
The bodies of two |sraeli teens found dead are recovered from a dry river bed
Police and burial society members recovered the bodies
The bodies of two Israeli teenagers have been discovered in a cave in the West Bank, apparently the latest victims in a bloody cycle of attacks in the Middle East.

The two youths, both aged 14, had been reported missing on Tuesday after skipping school and going hiking outside the Tekoa Jewish settlement near Bethlehem where they lived.

It appears that Arabs, Palestinians killed them

Police spokesman
Police suspect the boys were stoned to death by Palestinian militants, spokesman Raffia Yaffe said.

Palestinian-Israeli tensions have risen since a four-month-old baby was killed by Israeli shrapnel during a bombardment of a refugee camp in Gaza on Monday.

Israeli soldiers carrying out the search for the killers arrested four Bedouin shepherds who inhabit the area, witnesses said.

'Terror escalation'

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the "horrifying murders" outside Tekoa amounted to "another escalation in the terrorist activities and violence carried out by the Palestinians against an innocent civilian population".

Kobi Mendel, 14, who was found dead on 9 May
The family of Kobi Mendel, 14, was from the US
He called on the Palestinian Authority to "halt terrorism and stop the poisonous incitement against Israelis and Jews" in the official Palestinian media.

Palestinian officials have also condemned the killing; senior negotiator Saeb Erekat said children and civilians were unacceptable targets whether they were Palestinians or Israelis.

"But the short way for peace and stability is finishing the Israeli occupation," he said.

The dead boys have been identified as Yossi Ishran and Kobi Mandel, both them recent arrivals to the settlement. The Mandel family were immigrants from the US.

Yosef Ishran, 14, who was found dead on 9 May
Yosef Ishran, 14, was new to the settlement
After the news broke, settlers threw stones at Palestinian cars and the Israeli army sealed off the nearby Arab village of Tuqu, Palestinian security officials said.

On Tuesday, a body of another Israeli settler, who had been shot and stabbed, was found near the settlement of Itamar, south of Nablus.

Clear pattern

The BBC's Middle East correspondent, Frank Gardner, says a clear pattern has been emerging in the latest Israel-Palestinian violence, with Palestinian militants increasingly focusing their attentions on Israeli settlements and those that live in them.

Schoolmates of the boys who were found dead on 9 May
The boys' schoolmates mourned
There has also been sporadic violence elsewhere in the Palestinian territories, with two mortar bombs fired at a settlement and a roadside bomb said to have exploded near a passing Israeli army patrol, both in the Gaza Strip.

There are no reports of casualties. The Israel army later launched a raid on Palestinian-controlled land in the northern Gaza Strip destroying a police post.

The settlements on Arab land captured by Israel in 1967 - which are illegal under international law - are one of the major sticking points blocking any long-term peace deal.

Palestinians say there can be no peace with Israel while their land remains under occupation, but Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has so far refused to consider a freeze on settlement activity while the violence continues.

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See also:

08 May 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Arms haul sparks new fears
08 May 01 | Middle East
Israel sounds the alarm
07 May 01 | Middle East
Israeli attack kills baby girl
05 May 01 | Middle East
Report criticises Israeli settlements
09 May 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Words stoke Mid-East fires
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