The night of the riots in Hawara by Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank last week has a trail of destruction sown by Israelis in the village by masked men to avenge the murder of the Jewish brothers by unidentified radicalised Palestinians – who are on the run after the elite Israel police are on a countrywide manhunt.
Hundreds of Jewish settlers descended on the northern West Bank town, killing 37-year-old Sameh Aqtash and wounding 98 other Palestinians after two Israeli brothers were gunned down by a Palestinian affiliated with the Nablus-based Lion’s Den militant group on 26 February.
The day after on 27 February, hundreds of settlers set fire to homes and cars and threw stones, it was obvious to anyone on the road leading into the West Bank Palestinian town that the rioters were still in control, the Haaretz newspaper describes the situation.
Scores of young Jewish vigilantes, many of them masked, gathered there in the morning checking vehicles in search of Palestinians. The Israeli soldiers kept a distance, but the vigilante was doing as they pleased, laments an Israeli newspaper.
The reports of a large Israeli army presence in the town existed only on paper. Many rebuked the armed forces for their incompetence.
Top Israel General Yehuda Fuchs, said the settler extremists are sowing terror. The vigilante settlers who rampaged through a Palestinian town in the West Bank had carried out a “pogrom” that caught the military off-guard, he remarked.
The general who is Head of the IDF (Israel Defence Force) Central Command and oversees the West Bank told Hebrew-language media that he was worried about clashes between soldiers and settlers and accused the Jewish extremists of “spreading terror.”
Meanwhile, the Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank didn’t dare wander around their village, which looked like a ghost town. The shops were shuttered, the streets strewn with rocks, and the smell of smoke was still in the air.
The army accused the rioters while civil society and human rights organisations blame intelligence failure.
On the other hand, Lt. Gen. Herzl Halevi, Israel’s army chief denounces the attack by hundreds of Jewish settlers and laments that the army should have prevented the rampage by Jewish settlers in Hawara.
Israel’s army chief remarked that Israelis should halt the “internecine struggle” that has plagued the country since Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right government took over two months ago.
Many attribute the chaos in Hawara as a hallmark of the massacre nearly forty years ago at Sabra and Shatila Palestine refugee camps by Israeli-backed right-wing Phalange militia killed between 2,000 and 3,500 Palestinian refugees and Lebanese civilians between September 16 and 18, 1982.
However, the IDF commanders immediately scoffed off the allegation of Israel’s involvement in the bloody atrocities in the two refugee camps in Lebanon.
Shatila camp southwest of Lebanon’s capital city Beirut housed refugees who were victims of the 1948 Nakba, or “catastrophe” in Arabic, fleeing the violent ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist militias as Israel was formed.
The Hawara riot has invited global condemnation of Israel’s handling of the situation. Hady Amr, the U.S. special representative for Palestinian affairs, visited the scene of occurrence and condemned “the unacceptable wide-scale, indiscriminate violence by settlers” and wants “to see full accountability and legal prosecution of those responsible for these heinous attacks and compensation for those who lost property or were otherwise affected,” echoing calls by State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
European Union calls for protection of civilians, de-escalation amid rising West Bank violence and urges all perpetrators must be brought to justice.
The European Union in a statement expressed its concern over recent deadly violence in the West Bank, calling for the protection of civilians and immediate de-escalator steps.
The EU statement also commended Jordan, Egypt, and the US for convening Sunday’s summit in Aqaba, Jordan which brought Israeli and Palestine Authority officials together in an attempt to tamp down on the violence ahead of the month of Ramadan.
The Israel media claims 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.
Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high for the past year, with the IDF conducting near-nightly raids in the West Bank amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks, writes Times of Israel.
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