Settler attacks kill one Palestinian and injure 34 in occupied West Bank

Homes, shops and cars attacked as growing number of Israeli politicians call for military action

The aftermath of overnight settler violence in the occupied West Bank. AFP
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One person was killed and at least 34 were injured after Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian property in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday and Wednesday, a Palestinian official said.

The Palestinian health ministry said that the person who was killed was brought to hospital with gunshot wounds to the chest.

Palestinian news agency Wafa reported overnight attacks on homes, 140 cars and shops. Incidents were reported at locations to the north of the West Bank capital Ramallah, the flashpoint northern town of Hawara and several other sites.

More than 50 vehicles and 30 homes were set on fire on Wednesday, Wafa reported. It added that tear gas canisters were also fired at homes by Israeli forces.

The outbreak of settler violence comes after Palestinian gunmen killed four Israelis near the settlement of Eli on Tuesday afternoon, an attack claimed by Gaza-based militant group Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu subsequently declared that “all options are open”.

There have been widespread Palestinian reports that Israeli troops witnessed the attacks without making any attempt to prevent them.

Israeli outlet Ynet news reported that three Israelis were arrested.

Palestinian news agency Wafa also said that a 12-year-old Palestinian boy was severely injured by settlers when he was attacked travelling home on his bike.

The news draws parallels with a deadly settler rampage in Hawara in February, which came in the aftermath of a gun attack that killed two Israeli brothers near by.

Settlers were reported to have opened fire at Palestinians in the town overnight.

A group also set up camp at the illegal West Bank outpost of Evyatar, which for years has been a source of tension between settlers and the Israeli military, who frequently block attempts to resettle the area.

Politician Zvi Sukkot of the far-right Religious Zionist Party, part of Israel's ruling coalition, declared: “We've returned home to Evyatar … terrorists should know that any attack will only deepen the Jewish hold on the territory.”

A growing number of Israeli politicians are calling for a widespread military operation in the West Bank, despite critics saying such a move would achieve little against a wave of attacks carried out not by organised Palestinian militant groups, but disparate bands of disillusioned young men.

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, a longtime advocate for the settler movement, called for such a move as well as a return to targeted Israeli assassinations from the air and a law to allow the death penalty for terrorists.

Tensions rocketed in the region after an Israeli raid on the Palestinian city of Jenin on Monday, which led to the deaths of seven Palestinians and more than 90 injuries. Eight Israeli soldiers were also injured.

The Palestinian Health Ministry says that 174 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army in Palestinian territories since the start of the year.

Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank have killed 24 people in 2023.

Updated: June 21, 2023, 2:30 PM