After Hawara rampage, Israel settlers take 'organised pogroms' to other Palestine villages

After Hawara rampage, Israel settlers take 'organised pogroms' to other Palestine villages
Israeli settler attacks on Palestinian towns and villages continued for a third day on Tuesday.
6 min read
West Bank
28 February, 2023
Since Sunday, attacks by Israeli settlers continued as Israeli far-right ministers pledged to continue settlement expansion. [Getty]

Israeli settler attacks on Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank continued for a third day on Tuesday, Palestinian sources told The New Arab.

On Tuesday morning, Israeli settlers rampaged through the Palestinian village of Deir Sharaf, south of Nablus, damaging several Palestinian cars and destroying at least 50 olive trees, a local source told TNA.

Late on Monday night, Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian ambulance carrying a mother and child on the road between Jenin and Ramallah. The ambulance was damaged and the mother was injured, according to the ministry of health.

Earlier on Monday, organised groups of Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian families in the communities of Yerza and Al-Maleh in the northern Jordan Valley, damaging property.

"Some 140 settlers attacked both communities in 'Area C' around 2:00 pm in organised groups," Muataz Bisharat, a resident and activist in the northern Jordan Valley, told TNA. "Some groups of settlers entered the houses of 13 families and destroyed their contents, while others were piercing water tanks."

"Other settlers were standing at the occupation army's checkpoints, beside the army soldiers, blocking the roads in front of Palestinians who tried to reach the attacked houses to provide help."

Settlers tags Jordan Valley / Courtsey: Fares Fuqaha
Israeli settlers hang signs calling for revenge on Palestinian roads in the northern Jordan Valley, after attacking Palestinian families on Monday. [Fares Fuqaha /TNA]

The attack on Monday came a day after a series of settler 'pogroms' on Palestinian villages in the southern Nablus region, with one Palestinian killed and around 100 more injured, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.

The attack started following the killing of two Israeli settlers in Hawara by a Palestinian shooter, after Israel's massacre of 11 Palestinians in Nablus.

Israeli social media accounts circulated a call for an attack on Palestinian villages in the afternoon of Sunday with slogans such as "We demand Victory! We demand Revenge!" according to reports, shortly before the rampage.

"Some 70 settlers arrived at my house in Huwara and began to throw rocks at us, so I ran with my family inside the house and went up to the rooftop for protection," Mohammad Odeh, a resident of Hawara, told TNA.

"The settlers began to set fire to the property, including my car junkyard business, while my 11-year-old son and I tried to push them off by throwing objects from the rooftop," said Odeh.

"The settlers, some of whom carried firearms, tried to break into the house and to set fire to the first floor, while they kept threatening us," described Odeh. "My three children, the youngest being my 4-month-old daughter, my wife, and I were trapped inside, completely defenceless."

Israeli settlers also attacked the villages of Burin, Asira Qibliyah and Zaatara, where an Israeli settler shot and killed 37-year-old Palestinian Sameh Aqtash - a Palestinian relief worker who had just returned from providing help for Turkey's devastating earthquake.  

Meanwhile, settler attacks also extended to the north of Ramallah, where groups of settlers blocked the road between east Ramallah and Jericho, near the town of Taybeh, attacking Palestinian vehicles.

"I was driving back to Ramallah through Taybeh when I saw tens of settlers on both sides of the road just outside the town, and they began to throw stones at my car, but I escaped," Maadi Fouad, a resident, told TNA.

"The car right behind me couldn't make it through, and the driver and passengers had to leave the car and run into the olive fields, while settlers set fire to the car," said Fouad.

"We came back to look for the people who had escaped in the olive fields and found them hours later after the settlers had left," he added. 

Following the attacks, Israeli army forces blocked the entrances to south Nablus and imposed a curfew on several Palestinian communities.

"Hawara has become a ghost town after the occupation army closed all entrances since Sunday night, even closing internal streets with dirt mounts," Ghassan Daghlas, an activist who monitors settler activities in the northern West Bank told TNA early on Tuesday.

"The occupation army has been part of the settlers' aggression since the beginning," noted Daghlas. "The army was present during the attacks, protecting settlers and blocking access to the attacked villages in front of Palestinians who tried to provide help."

Attacks by Israeli settlers have been increasing since the beginning of last year, especially in the Nablus region. Palestinian human rights groups have accused the Israeli government of empowering settlers' violence.

"Settlements are a crime by the Israeli state in the first place because they are a direct violation of the Geneva conventions that make it illegal for an occupying power to transfer its own civilian population to the occupied territory," Tahseen Alian, senior researcher at the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, informed TNA.

"What we see today is an additional crime, consisting in empowering settlers, in their quality of civilians, to take part in the repression against the occupied Palestinian population as part of the same colonial system," said Alian.

"Israeli leaders continue this policy only because of the impunity provided by the international community, by never holding Israel accountable for any of its violations, including settlement expansion," he added.

On Monday, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, a settler himself, said in public statements that settlement expansion "will not freeze, not even a single day".

Smotrich's declarations came following the final statement of the US-Palestinian-Israeli summit in Jordan's Aqaba on Sunday, which called for freezing settlement expansion to defuse the escalation in the West Bank.

Also on Monday, Israeli National Security Minister Itmar Ben Gvir said in a statement that "what was concluded in Jordan will stay in Jordan", reaffirming his support for settlement expansion.

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Later on Monday, Ben Gvir stormed Mount Sabih in the Palestinian village of Beita, where Palestinians have been protesting a settler outpost since 2021, provoking confrontations between Palestinian villagers who protested Ben Gvir's tour and the presence of Israeli forces.

Last week, the Palestinian Authority (PA) withdrew a voting petition for a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements expansion, as part of a US-brokered deal, in exchange for Israel's freezing settlement expansion for several months and reducing military raids in towns and cities in the West Bank.

Israeli forces have killed at least 63 Palestinians, including children, in the occupied West Bank since the start of the year, while the Israeli government has approved 7,000 settlement units in the occupied West Bank since the announced deal.