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‘Cyber-love’ lures Israeli teen to his death

Politicians use tragedy for political point scoring

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An Isreali teenager who reportedly left home in order to elope with a Palestinian girl he met on the Internet, has turned up dead on the outskirts of a West Bank town.

The 16 year-old Ophir Rakhum, who disappeared from his home on Tuesday after stealing money, went seeking love but found only death. Rakhum was described as bright, quiet and a bit of a "computer freak".

His body was discovered riddled with 20 bullets on the outskirts of Ramallah by an Isreali Army patrol yesterday.

The Times quotes unnamed investigators who said that although they believed it was possible the 16 year-old had been set up, it was possible that he had a genuine appointment. Security service contacts were more forthright and said that "Rakhum's fantasy love life had collided with the horrors of the al Aqsa intifada [uprising]".

Sketchy reports suggest that Rakhum was seen with a Palestinian woman before being killed by masked attackers. He was apparently driving with the woman between Jerusalem and Ramallah, which was stopped on the outskirts of the town by three youths.

Palestinian witnesses said the youth was the shot and his body dumped in the boot of their car. The woman then reportedly got into a car with a gunman and drove away - suggesting she was an accomplice to the murder.

Israeli political leaders, who are campaigning in the run up to a general election on February 6, condemned the murder, and, predictable, sought to make political capital out of the tragedy by suggesting it made peace negotiations more difficult. The Palestinian Authority also denounced the killing, which is being investigated by Palestinian police. ®

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