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Settlers in the Jordan Valley on Sunday rejected the claim that a Palestinian shepherd found dead late Saturday night was murdered by Jews.

Dubi Tal, head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, told Haaretz that all of the settlements in the valley are cooperating with the police and army investigations into the incident.

Tal also said Palestinian declarations that local settlers murdered the shepherd were intended to de-legitimize Jewish settlement in the Jordan Valley.

The body of the 19-year-old Palestinian shepherd was found with gunshot wounds late Saturday near a West Bank village south of Nablus.

Palestinians have blamed the attack on local settlers.

Israeli police spokesman Danny Poleg says the youth's body was found with gunshot wounds and taken to an Israeli forensics center for an autopsy. He added that police were investigating the incident.

Palestinian officials said Yihya Atta Bani Minya, of the town of Aqrabeh, was shot by settlers. Local government official Ghassan Daglas saif two teenagers saw a white car belonging to settlers pursue the shepherd late Saturday and then heard shots.

Recent months have seen a spike in violence by West Bank settlers against Palestinians, and in some cases against Israeli security forces. Settlers defend the violence as a tactic meant to deter Israeli authorities from evacuating settlements.