A Palestinian man who stabbed a 13-year-old American-Israeli girl to death in her West Bank home while she slept had said he wanted to die a "martyr's death" on Facebook in the days before the attack. Israeli police say Hallel Yaffa Ariel was murdered by 19-year-old Mohammed Tarayreh as she rested inside her bedroom in Kiryat Arba, 15 miles south of Jerusalem.
Tarayreh, from a town named Bani Naim nearby, was reportedly fatally shot after the attack when a group of security guards challenged him. One of the guards, a 30-year-old man, reportedly suffered multiple stab and gunshot wounds and is in a serious condition at the Hadassah Medical Centre in Ein Karem.
The incident, which occurred on Thursday 30 June, began after the attacker infiltrated Kiryat Arba and entered the girl's home, located next to a fence surrounding the settlement. She had been up the night before preparing for a dance performance.
The assailant managed to find his way into the property and stabbed her up to 18 times in the upper body before escaping the house. The girl was taken to the Shaare Zedek Medical Centre in Jerusalem, but died shortly after arriving.
Just days before the assault Tarayreh praised a Palestinian woman who carried out a car-ramming attack. According to Haaretz, in a Facebook post, he called her a martyr whose "name has been exalted." In another post he wrote: "Death is a right and I demand the right to die."
In Washington, the US State Department condemned "the outrageous terrorist attack."
"This brutal act of terrorism is simply unconscionable," spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement. "We extend our deepest condolences to her family. We also understand another individual who was responding to the attack was wounded by the attacker. We extend our hopes for a quick and full recovery."
"My daughter was sleeping, calm, she was happy," her mother, Rina Ariel, told the Times of Israel. "A terrorist comes and murders her in her bed."
Israeli troops then sealed off Bani Naim and prepared to demolish Tarayreh's home. Kiryat Arba is located near the flashpoint city of Hebron, where dozens of attacks have taken place recently.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mourned the girl's death saying afterwards: "You don't murder a sleeping child for peace. You don't slit a little girl's throat to protest a policy you don't like. You do this because you've been brainwashed. You've been brainwashed by a warped ideology that teaches you that this child isn't human. We will not let barbarism defeat humanity."
The teenager's death means 34 Israelis have now been killed in knife, gun and car-ramming attacks since October last year. More than 200 Palestinians have also been killed in that period.