Israeli forces have detained a Palestinian man suspected of killing an Israeli child and wounding another during a rampage in a West Bank settlement earlier this month, authorities said Sunday.
Officials said the suspect, from a village next to the settlement, confessed to the killing and handed over a knife used in the attack.
The assailant attacked a group of children in the Bat Ayin settlement with the knife and a pickax on April 2. A 13-year-old boy was killed, a 7-year-old was seriously wounded and a third boy escaped. The attacker fled the scene, leaving behind the small, red pickax.
At the time of the attack, a murky Palestinian group claimed responsibility. But authorities discounted the claim and said Sunday that the suspect, Moussa Tayet, had no links to any organized militant groups.
Allegedly planned attack for weeks
Israeli military and police officials alleged, however, that Tayet, 26, meticulously planned the attack for weeks, picking up the weapons from a hiding place as he entered the settlement. They said he told investigators that the attack was religiously motivated.
The attacker entered Bat Ayin, located between Jerusalem and the southern West Bank city of Hebron, unhindered. The religious settlers have refused to build a security fence around their community — standard practice in most settlements — saying it would be a sign of weakness.
The Israeli army said Tayet was caught on April 14, but his arrest was only announced on Sunday because he was being interrogated.
The attack occurred a day after Israel's new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, took office. The leader of the hawkish Likud party has promised a firm hand against militants and lowered expectations on the prospects for peace.
On Sunday, Netanyahu's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said there is no reason to begin negotiations on a final peace accord with the Palestinians, saying they "shouldn't be freed from their obligations" to rein in militants.
'Road map' peace plan
Under the internationally backed "road map" peace plan of June 2002, Israel and the Palestinians were to embark on a three-phase process toward a final deal.
But the talks broke down because neither side met their obligations under the first stage: Israel did not halt settlement construction and the Palestinians did not clamp down on militants.
When the talks resumed in 2007, in Annapolis, Maryland, the road map was the basis for negotiations, but the phased approach was jettisoned and the two sides went directly to negotiations on a final accord. Lieberman has rejected the Annapolis process.
"I don't think it's right to immediately agree to negotiations on a final accord," Lieberman told Army Radio. "The political process must begin at the beginning, not the end."
Netanyahu has resisted pressure to declare support for the creation of a Palestinian state, and Lieberman has said Israeli concessions have only brought more violence.