Masked assailants shot at Palestinians while others set fire to cars and homes in Umm Safa, near Ramallah.
Several dozen settlers rampaged through the Palestinian West Bank village of Umm Safa on Saturday, setting fire to vehicles and homes and opening fire on a Palestinian TV crew. Video footage showed Israeli settlers, some of them masked, opening fire.
On Tuesday, settlers set Palestinian homes and vehicles on fire in the West Bank villages of Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya and Huwara. On Wednesday, about 200 settlers rampaged through the village of Turmus Ayya and on Thursday in the Palestinian town of Urif.
Four suspects have been detained over the attack, among them an off-duty soldier.
The IDF’s international media spokesman denounced the settler rioting.
“Shameful acts on the Sabbath. This is not who we are. These are acts of terror performed by criminals. We are doing what we can,” Lieutenant colonel Richard Hecht posted on Twitter.
In an unusual joint step, IDF chief Lieutenant general Herzi Halevi, Shin Bet head Ronen Bar, and Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai issued a joint statement strongly condemning the recent string of settler attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, branding them as “nationalist terrorism in the full sense of the term.”
“The security forces are working against these rioters, risking the lives of IDF soldiers, Israel Police officers and Shin Bet officers. This violence increases Palestinian terror, harms the State of Israel and the international legitimacy of the security forces to fight Palestinian terror, and diverts the security forces from their main mission against Palestinian terror,” the three senior officials said.
But the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din claimed troops of the Israel Defence Forces were present at the scene but did nothing to stop the settlers.
According to Army Radio, the religious settlers had driven to the village to carry out the attack. Observant Jews do not drive on the Sabbath, unless it is necessary to do so to save a life.
The US administration and several European states conveyed their concern and bafflement to Israeli officials following the attacks.
Over the weekend, diplomatic representatives from nearly 20 countries, including the US, UK, France and Sweden, visited the Palestinian village of Turmus Ayya, which was subject to the most vicious attack.
During a phone call with his Israeli counterpart Tzachi Hanegbi on Saturday morning, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan expressed deep concern about the latest spate of settler violence targeting Palestinians in the West Bank. Sullivan stressed that the administration is expecting Israel to prevent similar attacks.
An Israeli senior source told Haaretz that the issue of settler violence has also come up in talks with other international counterparts as the UN Security Council is set to convene for an emergency discussion on the matter.
Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid said the settlers’ violence “has crossed all lines,” adding that “burning houses and cars of innocent people is inhumane and certainly not Jewish.”
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should condemn this disgrace and deal with it severely. This is a moral shame and a security threat,” Lapid added.
Germany’s ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert, said on Twitter that he is “shocked by another outbreak of settler violence.”
“Recent terror attacks cannot serve as an excuse for this. According to international law it is Israel’s responsibility to safeguard life & security of all inhabitants of the occupied territories,” Seibert added.
‘Run to the hilltops’: Ben-Gvir calls on settlers to establish more illegal outposts (Haaretz)
Several unauthorised West Bank outposts have been established in the past few days, with National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir calling for even more as government officials ask security forces to look the other way.
Israel expedites settlement construction, only one week after announcement (Haaretz)
The pace of the plan indicates an acceleration of the procedures for advancing new construction in the West Bank. In the past, the same process would have taken several months.
Top photo: The Palestinian village of Umm Safa on Saturday (Haaretz)