Settlers rampage though Palestinian town
Property, cars set alight, one killed in revenge riot
Head of the IDF Central Command, Major General Yehuda Fuchs said on Tuesday that vigilante settlers who rampaged through a Palestinian town in the West Bank on Sunday night had carried out a “pogrom” that caught the military off guard.
Fuchs also told Hebrew-language media that he was worried clashes between soldiers and settlers would eventually lead to Israelis being killed, accusing the Jewish extremists of “spreading terror”.
Fuchs said troops had been prepared for small-scale disturbances following the deadly terror attack near Nablus earlier in the day, expecting groups of settlers to protest at junctions and throw stones at Palestinian cars.
Instead, hundreds of people ran riot through Huwara and other nearby towns, leaving one Palestinian dead and several others badly injured, as well as killing sheep and torching homes and cars. All Israeli suspects detained during the rioting have been released.
“We were not ready for a pogrom on the scale of dozens of people with flammable material and the means to set it on fire, heading to 20 or more places – as well as confronting soldiers and commanders and police at the junction,” Fuchs told Channel 12 news in an interview.
“We were not prepared for that many people, how they came, the scale, the force of the violence they used, and the planning they had carried out.”
While taking responsibility for the army’s inability to stanch Palestinian terror, he slammed vigilantism among settlers.
“This is not a case of ‘taking the law into their own hands'” – as many government figures have been referring to it – “because law-abiding people do not spread terror among a population and don’t throw stones at people randomly,” he said.
He noted that a fight between settlers and soldiers on Monday night could have turned deadly.
The Biden administration said on Monday it expects Israel to prosecute those involved in the rampage, and to provide compensation to Palestinians whose homes and property were destroyed or damaged.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price during a press briefing called the Sunday night attack “completely unacceptable”.
On Tuesday, the European Union expressed its concern over recent deadly violence in the West Bank, calling for the protection of civilians and immediate de-escalatory steps.
The EU condemned Sunday’s terror attack in which two Israeli brothers were murdered and the Monday shooting that claimed the life of an American-Israeli man.
The 27-member body also condemned “the outbreak of settler violence, which resulted in the killing of one Palestinian, injuring of several hundreds of Palestinians and burning of houses and shops, causing the unacceptable destruction of Palestinian property”.
Israelis donated over NIS 1 million ($A406,688) within less than 24 hours for Palestinians whose homes and businesses were destroyed.
Meanwhile, a report on Tuesday night said incidents of settler violence have doubled since Israel’s new government took office in late December, and that the Shin Bet security service was warning settler leaders and rabbis against further violence and lawlessness in an attempt to prevent the situation from further spiralling out of control.
Channel 12 said there were tensions within the government regarding the response to a wave of Palestinian terror attacks, which have left 14 Israelis dead in the past few weeks. The report said several ministers are demanding more aggressive actions, despite the looming holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which in recent years has become a time of heightened tensions and violence.
The network added that far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir – who has been pushing for a large-scale anti-terror operation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – held a “very tense” meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, in which he complained that he was being left out of important security discussions and that not enough weight was being given to his positions.
TIMES OF ISRAEL