At dawn on Friday 12 April, Israeli teenager Benjamin Achimeir walked out from his settler outpost in the occupied West Bank, with a flock of sheep, and disappeared.

Achimeir, 14, had been living and working on a tiny farm outpost near his family’s settlement, Malachei HaShalom – one of nearly 150 Israeli settlements in the West Bank regarded as illegal under international law.

The young teenager was murdered that morning out on the pasture, according to Israeli police, but it would be 24 hours before his body was found. When the flock of sheep returned to the farm without him, a massive search began, involving the Israeli police, military, air force, intelligence services and thousands of volunteers from the settler community.

For some, it was not enough. At 08:30 on Saturday, Elisha Yered, a former spokesman for MP Limor Son Har-Melech and extremist settler suspected in the murder of a Palestinian man last August, posted in a WhatsApp group for settlers.

“Shabbat Shalom, it’s been nearly 24 hours of heavy suspicion that Benjamin was kidnapped from the pasture and still the obvious measures have not been taken,” Yered wrote.

The same message was being posted in various settler WhatsApp groups that morning. It called on them to take matters into their own hands – “crowning” of nearby Palestinian villages (a term for blocking residents from leaving or entering), “home to home searches”, and “collective punishment against the murderous Arab population”.

The message also contained a list of meeting points. Hours later, a similar message would circulate in the settler groups but with fire emojis attached to each location, as well as calls from individual settlers to “eliminate the enemy”, “exterminate the beasts”, and – referring to a nearby Palestinian village – “let all of Duma burn”.