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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 17:49 GMT 18:49 UK
Israeli found dead in West Bank
Israeli troops recover body from near Ramallah
The body was recovered from an industrial area near Ramallah
An Israeli has been found dead near the West Bank town of Ramallah in what Israeli officials say appears to be a killing by Palestinian militants.

Fifty-year-old Sasson Nuriel vanished from his workplace last week. He is said to have worked in a sweet factory in a Jewish settlement.

A Palestinian suspect arrested in Ramallah led Israeli forces to where the body had been left.

An Israeli police statement blamed the Hamas militant group for the killing.

"This was not an abduction [for ransom] or a military operation. They came across a Jew whose only fault was being a Jew," Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra told army radio.

Nuriel - who is said to have lived in the Jewish settlement Pisgat Zeev in East Jerusalem, which Israel defines as a suburb in Jerusalem - went missing on 21 September.

Colleagues described him as someone with good Palestinian contacts who was happy to enter Palestinian-ruled areas for business.

Handcuffs

A Palestinian eyewitness in Beitunia, where the body was found, said: "The army came and surrounded the shops here. I went onto the roof where I saw the army take a body out of the ground.

Murdered settler Sasson Nuriel
Nuriel is said to have often entered Palestinian areas for work
The eyewitness said the soldiers had someone with them in handcuffs who appeared to have led them to where the body lay.

Israel wants the Palestinian Authority to dismantle Hamas and other militant groups as stipulated by the international peace plan known as the road map.

Hamas is responsible for hundreds of attacks against Israelis in recent years, including deadly suicide bombings.

Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 war, but dismantled its 21 settlements in Gaza as part of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan.

More than 400,000 settlers remain in the occupied territories, including many in East Jerusalem.


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