In 2 months, Israelis have killed at least 64 Palestinians (one last night); Palestinians have killed 11 Israelis (2 yesterday).
On Sunday night gangs of Israeli settlers invaded the Palestinian town of Huwara and nearby villages, burning homes, destroying cars, and attacking residents. Several Palestinians were shot, one was stabbed, and another was beaten with an iron bar.
by IAK team, February 27, 2023
Details are still emerging on this large-scale incident of Israeli settler violence. Reports diverge somewhat – but some parts of the picture are clear.
On Sunday night, hundreds of Israeli settlers (some sites report “dozens”) invaded the Palestinian town of Huwara and nearby villages, burning homes, destroying cars, and attacking residents. One Palestinian man was killed.
The rampage lasted for hours before Israeli military arrived, and has been called the worst settler violence in years.
The immediate cause of the attack was apparently the shooting deaths earlier Sunday of two Israeli settlers near Huwara, which was preceded by daily Israeli violence against Palestinians that included 11 Palestinians killed in an Israeli military raid in Nablus. The larger picture includes at least 64 Palestinian deaths and 11 Israeli deaths so far in 2023, and decades of Israeli oppression of Palestinians.
Images from the streets of Hawara showed the destruction, with the charred gray skeletons of dozens of cars near to two-story buildings with their windows smashed.
One video shared widely on social media Sunday and geolocated by NBC News appeared to show a crowd of Israeli settlers praying while standing in front of a burning building.
Several Palestinians were shot, one was stabbed, and another was beaten with an iron bar. Reports say that somewhere between 100 and 350 others suffered from tear gas inhalation.
37-year-old Palestinian Sameh Hamdallah Mahmoud Aqtash, was shot and killed by Israeli fire, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. According to IMEMC, Aqtash had been in Turkey just two weeks ago, volunteering on an earthquake rescue team.
Most sources indicate that Israeli settlers shot and killed Aqtash; however, according to AFP, the Palestinian’s brother insists that the Israeli military did it.
A military spokesperson denies this.
One Huwara resident stated, “Whenever we started to push the settlers back, the army was firing tear gas at us.”
The Israeli military were in the midst of a manhunt for a Palestinian gunman who had killed two Israeli soldiers in the area earlier on Sunday, when the settler rampage began.
It is unclear why, with hundreds of military personnel nearby, none intervened to stop the attack for several hours.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking of the slain Israelis, said, “May God avenge them. I ask even when the blood is boiling, not to take the law in one’s hands.”
Former Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz declared that the revenge attacks in Hawara “should shame every person and every Jew in particular…This is not our way.” [NOTE: Israeli settler violence is quite commonplace, often with Israeli military complicity or even assistance.]
While some denounced the rampage, other members of the ruling coalition — seen as perhaps the most right-wing in Israel’s history —appeared to praise Sunday’s violence as a deterrence against Palestinian attacks.
“I look favorably on what happened in Hawara,” Tzvika Foghel, a lawmaker from the ultranationalist Jewish Power party, said in an interview with IDF radio. “The result is deterrence, the army should do it and not the civilians. I want to see every place where terrorists come out burning.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds the Israeli government accountable for “the terrorist acts carried out by settlers under the protection of the occupation forces.”
US State Department spokesman Ned Price commented that both the shooting of the Israelis and the settler rampage “underscore the imperative to immediately de-escalate tensions in words and deeds.” [NOTE: the State Department rarely criticizes Israel’s actions – see other recent State Department comments here and here.]
The Israeli military has announced that ten Israelis were arrested following the Hawara rampage.
Less than a week ago, Israeli soldiers killed eleven Palestinians, injured more than 100, and caused more than 250 Palestinians to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation and other minor wounds.
Watch the video, Israeli settlers are burning Palestinian houses, cars. Trees and shops in Huwara village near Nablus, the Israeli settlers are escorted by the Israeli army.
Palestinian has no protections. pic.twitter.com/CtO2S5lP0c
— Issa Amro عيسى عمرو 🇵🇸 (@Issaamro) February 26, 2023
This is an ongoing story. Check back for possible updates.
For a complete list of Palestinians and Israelis killed since 2000, please visit Israel-Palestine Timeline
NOTE: The entire West Bank has been under Israeli occupation since 1967; all its official entrances and exits are controlled by Israeli soldiers, making its Palestinian inhabitants virtual prisoners. Many are families that were ethnically cleansed from Israel during Israel’s founding war (see this and this and this). Israeli forces often invade them; one example is here.
Israel was established in 1947 through a war of ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population, both Muslims and Christians, and it continues to steal other people’s land for illegal colonies known as ‘settlements.’ While Palestinians most often use nonviolent resistance, a small number use armed resistance against the invaders.
FURTHER READING ON ISRAELI SETTLER VIOLENCE:
- Palestinian brothers killed after Israeli settler runs them over
- Israeli military, settlers are breaking records in violence toward Palestinians
- Over 100 Israeli Settler Attacks Documented in Past 10 Days
- 450 incidents of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians in two years: B’Tselem
OTHER FEBRUARY DEATHS IN ISRAEL-PALESTINE:
- Palestinian Dies From Serious Wounds After Israeli Soldiers Shot Him Thursday
- 2 more Palestinians succumb to wounds inflicted by Israel
- Israel kills 11 Palestinians in daytime raid on Nablus
- Israeli forces kill Palestinian teen, another Palestinian dies of wounds
- Israeli Soldiers Kill Another Young Man, Injure Seven
- Israelis kill a father of three and a 14-year-old
- 5 more deaths in Israel-Palestine, 3 Palestinians, 2 Israelis
- Israeli Army Kills A Palestinian Youth In Nablus – Shot in the Face
- Israeli Soldiers Kill Five Palestinians In Jericho
- Israeli forces kill Palestinian father of newborn with a bullet to the chest
- Israel committed 3,532 human rights violations against Palestinians in January