Israel Police: Settlers Were Not Behind Palestinian Teen's Death

Forensics show shepherd died when shell detonated in his hands, despite family claim settlers shot him.

Israel Police on Monday said a Palestinian shepherd found dead in the West Bank late Saturday was killed in an accidental explosion, not by settlers.

Yihya Atta Bani Minya, 18, had been missing from his hometown of Akrabeh since Saturday afternoon. He was found dead near Gitit, in the Jordan Valley.

Neighbors and relatives of the teenager had accused extremist settlers of killing him, and police looked into that possibility. But spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said forensics experts determined the shepherd was killed after he picked up an unexploded shell that detonated in his hands.

Rosenfeld said the shepherd's body suffered shrapnel wounds, and there were no signs the shepherd was shot.

Jordan Valley settlers on Sunday rejected the claim that Minya was killed by one of them, and Dubi Tal, head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, said the settlers were cooperating with the police investigation.

According to Tal, Palestinian accusations that local settlers murdered the shepherd were intended to de-legitimize Jewish settlement in the Jordan Valley.

"It's nice that they've also turned us into 'settlers' and added us to the band of assassins," Tal said. "But inquiries we conducted in our communities revealed that no one heard any shots and no one knows anything about the incident."

There has been a recent spike in settler attacks on Palestinians, and the shepherd's death had raised fears of new settler violence.