Settlers attack Hawara after shooting wounds two Israeli soldiers

Settlers attack Hawara after shooting wounds two Israeli soldiers
Israeli security forces watched as settlers threw stones and fired live bullets at Palestinian homes and property in Hawara, the town’s mayor said, after two Israeli soldiers were wounded in a shooting attack on Saturday.
3 min read
West Bank
26 March, 2023
Hawara has been the target of repeated Israeli settler attacks in recent weeks [Getty]

Israeli settlers attacked the Palestinian town of Hawara in the north of the occupied West Bank late on Saturday, following a shooting attack that wounded two Israeli soldiers in the town’s main street earlier that day.

The shooting, which was first reported by the Israeli army, was later claimed by the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Local media quoted the Israeli army as saying that one of the soldiers was in a serious condition while the other's injuries were not critical. 

The Israeli army raided Hawara minutes after the attack and imposed a total curfew on the town, searching shops and houses and confiscating security cameras.

"Late into the night, while the army was still in the town, settlers began to gather by the dozens at the town’s entrance and pour into the northern neighbourhood," Muin Dmeidi, mayor of Hawara, told The New Arab on Sunday.

Settlers threw stones and fired live bullets at Palestinian homes and property "in front of their occupation’s army and border police who saw everything and did nothing," said Dmeidi.

"A group of settlers tried to set fire to one of the houses, but fortunately the young men of the town fought them off and prevented them from causing greater damage," the mayor said.

"More settlers continue to gather now [Sunday morning] at the entrance, apparently to hold a press conference", he added.

On Sunday morning, Israeli far-right lawmaker Zvi Sukkot marched into Hawara under Israeli army protection, before installing a field office at the town's entrance, joined by supporters. Sukkot was formerly a member of the Israeli 'Hilltop Youth' violent group and had been arrested by Israeli police for attacking Palestinian villages.

The town of Hawara has been at the centre of Israeli settlers attacks since last year, when settler groups stormed the town’s main street to take down Palestinian flags from electricity poles, clashing with Palestinian residents. Israeli forces then imposed a curfew on Hawara and closed streets for several days using dirt mounds.

In late February, hundreds of Israeli settlers attacked Hawara following the killing of two settlers in the town by a Palestinian shooter. Settlers killed one Palestinian and wounded dozens, torched 30 Palestinian houses and 90 cars. The attack was described by an Israeli officer as a 'pogrom'.

Soon after the attack on the town, Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich said at a public event that he thought Hawara should be wiped off the map and that the state of Israel, not settlers, should do it.

Smotrich’s comments were condemned by Palestinian, Arab, and US officials. He eventually backtracked on the remarks.