Israeli settlers attack Palestinians across West Bank

Israeli settlers attack Palestinians across West Bank


JERUSALEM — A Palestinian man was killed near a settlement in the West Bank overnight Saturday, and almost 150 settler attacks targeting Palestinians were carried out across the occupied territory, according to Palestinian media.

The Israeli army said that the Palestinian man killed late Saturday was seen outside Kdumim, a settlement in the northern West Bank, “armed with a handgun … and was neutralized by the community’s civilian security team.” Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, identified the man as Karam Ali Salman, 18, a resident of Qusin village, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The report said he was fatally shot by an armed Israeli settler in circumstances that remained “unclear.”

Another Palestinian man, 24-year-old Omar Tareq Saadi, also died Sunday as a result of injuries sustained Thursday during an Israeli military attack on the Jenin refugee camp, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The early-morning raid killed nine more Palestinians and was the deadliest operation in two decades, according to Palestinian officials.

Wafa said at least 144 Israeli settler attacks were reported on Saturday across the West Bank, the occupied territory that Palestinians envision as part of their future state. In Masafer Yatta, in the south, settlers assaulted a Palestinian man; in two villages near Ramallah, masked attackers torched a house and a car and threw stones; in Nablus, settlers uprooted nearly 200 trees. Outside of the northern village of Akraba, dozens of settlers established a new, unauthorized outpost, then attacked the Palestinian landowners who arrived at the scene and injured a medic who came to assist the injured, according to Yesh Din, an Israeli rights group. The report added that the Israeli military did not intervene.

There has been an “unprecedented increase in the frequency of terror attacks against Palestinian citizens and their property,” said Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official.

Early Sunday, Israeli security forces sealed off the family home of the Palestinian accused in a shooting that killed seven people outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem on Friday night. Authorities promised that the house would soon be demolished.

At an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Our response will be strong, fast and accurate. Whoever tries to hurt us, we will harm them and anyone who helps them.”

Israeli police said they have arrested at least 42 people in connection with Friday’s shooting, including members of the suspect’s immediate family, as they boosted forces throughout East Jerusalem and the West Bank in anticipation of further violence.

On Saturday, a second attack took place at an Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem just outside the walls of the Old City, when a 13-year-old Palestinian from a nearby neighborhood shot and wounded two Israelis. The boy was apprehended by an armed civilian at the scene, according to Israeli police.

Netanyahu’s new government is the most right-wing in Israeli history, composed of an alliance of settler activists and ultranationalists who say that past actions to counter Palestinian violence have not been strong enough.

On Saturday, Israeli authorities announced new anti-terrorism proposals, more support for Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and a loosening of restrictions on civilian gun ownership — stopping short of ordering retaliatory military strikes.

At a government meeting on Sunday, far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir demanded that in exchange for the seven killed on Friday, the government should, within seven days, authorize seven illegal settlements in the West Bank, according to Israel’s Channel 12 News .

Israeli raids in the West Bank have escalated dramatically over the past year, making 2022 the deadliest for Palestinians there since the United Nations began systematically tracking deaths in 2005. After the Jenin raid, the death toll of Palestinians killed this year has risen to at least 30, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The violence coincides with prearranged visits to the region by US officials, who have for weeks been warning of an escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s scheduled visit Monday and Tuesday will include meetings with Netanyahu in Israel and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, the State Department said.

US administration officials have scrambled to figure out how to avoid dealing directly with far-right Israeli ministers, including Ben Gvir — who has been convicted multiple times for inciting anti-Arab hatred and who rose from the political fringes to national security minister with promises to enforce the death penalty for Palestinian terrorists and enable Israeli soldiers to shoot at rock-throwing Palestinians.

Ben Gvir announced the anti-terrorism measures on Saturday. They are in line with previous Israeli responses to Palestinian attacks and have been criticized by rights groups as “collective punishment.”

Late Saturday, a small crowd of Israeli protesters gathered near an intersection leading to a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem. One of the young men said they wanted to “let the terrorists know we are here.”

As they began to surround a car, police shouted at the driver, who appeared to be Palestinian, to roll up his window and keep moving. The police then pushed the crowd away as they banged on the vehicle. One man carried a sign, in Hebrew, reading “revenge!”

Ayreh Blumberg, 66, a plumber from the nearby settlement of Ma’ale Adumim who participated in the demonstration, said anyone supporting Palestinian attackers, including family members, should be deported.

“I think they should be given a one-way ticket out of Israel,” he said.

Netanyahu has said that he and his Likud party lawmakers will rein in the hard-right members of his coalition.

But Ben Gvir is under pressure from his base to do more. When he visited the scene of the shooting Friday, residents shouted at him, “This happened on your watch! What will you do?”

After the Saturday cabinet meeting, he applauded the quick preparations to demolish the suspected gunman’s home, saying that “the speed of the sealing sends a message to the enemy.”

Among the victims of the Friday shooting rampage near the synagogue was Asher Natan, 14, who was buried on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives late Saturday night.

Also killed were a married couple in their 40s, Eli and Natalie Mizrahi, who were buried side by side early Sunday in a hilltop cemetery in the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh.

After hearing gunshots on the street, they left their Friday night dinner and went to offer help, Eli’s father, Shimon, told reporters near the site of the shooting.

During the funeral, several mourners said their deaths were part of a larger, divine plan for Israel. One griever read from scripture and said that “of course, anyone who was murdered in the name of God, and absolutely if he was murdered by Palestinians, it is in the name of God, then there is purpose in that terrible tragedy.”

“The terrorist came to the synagogue with the knowledge that he would kill Jews only for the reason that they were Jews,” said Israeli Economy Minister Nir Barkat, who in his previous role as Jerusalem mayor called on residents to carry guns during the “knife intifada” of 2015-2016, marked by a wave of Palestinian stabbings.

He was interrupted by Eli Mizrahi’s sister, who yelled: “Get out of here. You’re talking like that because there’s media here. You’re putting on a show!”

The shooting suspect has been identified as Khairi Alqam, a 21-year-old Palestinian from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tur, according to Israeli and Palestinian media. Alqam was named after his grandfather, who was fatally stabbed in 1998, allegedly by a Jewish attacker, the Israeli news site Ynet reported. Among those arrested on suspicion of carrying out the attack was Chaim Perlman, a member of the violently anti-Arab Kahana Chai movement, who was detained for a month in 2010. After his release, Perlman was forbidden by security forces from contacting several right- wing activists, including Ben Gvir, formed Kahanist.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.