Israel experts urge investigation into far-right parliamentarians for inciting 'war crimes'

Israel experts urge investigation into far-right parliamentarians for inciting 'war crimes'
2 min read
28 February, 2023
Israeli experts have called on the country's attorney general to investigate comments made by lawmakers including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich for 'including war crimes' against Palestinians.
Bezalel Smotrich (front right) has been repeatedly accused of calling for violence against Palestinians [RONEN ZVULUN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Twenty-two Israeli experts on international law have urged Israel’s attorney general to investigate members of the Knesset, including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, for "inducing war crimes" against Palestinians

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara has been asked to open an investigation into the Israeli settler rampage in Hawara in the West Bank, where hundreds of settlers set dozens of homes and cars on fire and killed one Palestinian. 

The violence followed the killings of two Israeli brothers from a nearby settlement. 

The legal scholars argued that the words of Smotrich and far-right lawmakers Zvika Fogel and Limor Son Har-Melech may have violated international law by "inducing others to commit war crimes".

Smotrich 'liked' a now-deleted tweet by David Ben Zion - the head of a regional council which governs 35 illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank - stating that "the village of Hawara should be wiped out today". 

Har-Melech, who belongs to the extreme-right Otzma Yehudit party visited Hawara on Sunday evening to support the settlers. 

Fogel, who is also an MK for Otzma Yehudit, said Hawara should be "burned and closed" and that the settler violence against Palestinians acts as "deterrence".

The legal experts said that "all the aforementioned remarks imply support in advance [in the case Smotrich], support in real time [Son Har-Melech] or justification after the fact [Fogel], and amount to encouragement to commit similar attacks in the future".

Settlers rampaged through Hawara on Monday, starting fires and attacking Palestinian homes. At least one Palestinian was killed and more than 350 Palestinians were injured, most suffering from tear gas inhalation, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said.

The settler violence came after two Israelis were shot dead by a Palestinian in the West Bank, just days after an Israeli massacre in Nablus, which left at least 11 Palestinians killed. 

Sixty-three Palestinians - more than one a day - have been killed by Israeli forces so far this year.