The inhabitants of the Palestinian town of Huwara, in the West Bank, woke up Monday in horror to discover houses burned and cars charred by an attack by Israeli settlers in retaliation for the death of two of them.
In an unusual event, the Israeli authorities called on the settlers to calm down. The army reported a new attack late in the day near Jericho, also in the West Bank, that killed a 27-year-old Israeli-American motorist.
The new acts of violence occur in the midst of an escalation of tension, despite the fact that officials from both parties promised on Sunday to “avoid new acts of violence” during a meeting in Jordan.
On Sunday night, dozens of Israeli settlers entered Huwara, a town in the northern West Bank. The attackers threw stones at homes and set buildings and dozens of vehicles on fire.
More than 350 Palestinians were injured. Most of them were suffering from the effects of tear gas inhalation, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
“They burned everything in their path,” a villager, Kamal Odeh, told AFP.
According to Wajeh Odeh of the city council, more than 100 cars were burned and 30 houses were similarly burned or damaged.
“We consider these acts as acts of terrorism,” an Israeli army official told reporters, saying that between 300 and 400 settlers entered the Palestinian town in the spirit of “revenge.” Eight Israelis were detained, with most of them later released, police said.
calls to calm
The attack came hours after two young Israeli settlers were shot dead on Sunday as they were driving near Huwara. The Israeli government called the incident a “Palestinian terrorist act.”
The same afternoon, a Palestinian was shot dead as Israeli forces and settlers entered Zaatara, another town near Nablus in the northern West Bank. “We want security, but the responsibility for guaranteeing it rests solely with the army,” Esty Yaniv, the mother of the two dead settlers, told reporters on Monday.
Hundreds of people attended his funeral in Jerusalem. His coffins, carried by relatives and soldiers, were draped with Israeli flags.
“I ask you not to do justice on your own, and to let the security forces carry out their mission,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video released by his office.
Along the same lines, his Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, stated during a visit to Huwara that “this situation, in which citizens do justice on their own, cannot be tolerated.”
Netanyahu has led one of the most right-wing governments in the history of the State of Israel since December, and has several ministers in his cabinet who are settlers in the West Bank.