After a deadly attack on two Israelis in the northern West Bank, Israeli settlers rioted in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory on Sunday. A 37-year-old Palestinian was fatally injured by gunfire, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. It is still unclear whether these were handed in by settlers or Israeli soldiers. At least 100 Palestinians were injured, according to medics, when Israeli settlers in Huwara and surrounding towns set fire to scores of Palestinian homes, shops and cars.
Netanyahu: “Don’t take the law into your own hands”
Two settlers aged 20 and 22 were shot dead in an attack in Huwara, south of Nablus. They came from the nearby Israeli settlement of Har Bracha. The search for the Palestinian suspect is still ongoing. In view of the dangerous escalation of the situation, the Israeli army announced that it would add two more battalions to its troops in the West Bank.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on his compatriots on Sunday evening “not to take the law into their own hands, even when the blood boils.” Israeli President Isaac Herzog strongly condemned the actions of the violent Israeli settlers. “Taking the law into your own hands, rioting and committing acts of violence against innocent people – that’s not our way,” he said.
Meeting in Aqaba also with US participation
Israelis and Palestinians had previously agreed on confidence-building measures at a meeting in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba. Government officials from the USA, Jordan and Egypt also took part in what are believed to be the first direct talks of this kind between the two sides in years. Another meeting has been scheduled for next month in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Israelis and Palestinians wanted to suspend “unilateral measures” for three to six months, they said in a joint statement without giving further details. Israel pledged not to discuss building new settlements in the West Bank for four months and not to approve new settlement outposts for six months.
Contradictions in Israeli Statements
Netanyahu, on the other hand, announced that Israel had not committed to halting construction. The expansion and legalization of Israeli settlements in the West Bank should proceed as planned. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who among other things controls the construction of the settlement, tweeted: “The expansion and development of the settlement project will not be frozen for a single day.” The Israeli army will also crack down on terrorism throughout the West Bank without any restrictions, he stressed.
No explanation was given for the apparent contradiction between the statements made by the government politicians and the Israeli negotiating delegation in Aqaba.
The situation has become even more tense since the right-wing religious government took office
The security situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories has long been extremely tense. However, since Netanyahu’s right-wing religious government took office two months ago, it has once again come to a head. Eleven Palestinians were killed and more than 100 injured in an Israeli military operation in Nablus on Thursday.
Since the beginning of the year, twelve Israelis and one Ukrainian have been killed in Palestinian attacks. In the same period, 63 Palestinians died – they were shot in confrontations with the Israeli army or after their own attacks.
The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved a draft law that would provide for the death penalty for terrorists. The controversial proposal still has to pass several readings in Parliament before it can come into force. A first vote is expected on Wednesday.
sti/AR/gh (afp, dpa, rtr, kna)