Israeli settlers rampage after Palestinian gunman kills 2

Jerusalem –

A large number of Israeli settlers rampaged in the northern West Bank late Sunday, setting cars and homes on fire after two settlers were killed by Palestinian gunmen. Ten people were said to have been injured.

The deadly shootings and ensuing late-night rampage cast doubt on declarations that Jordan has received pledges from Israeli and Palestinian officials to quell a year-long wave of violence.

Photos and videos on social media showed massive fires burning across the town of Hawala in what is believed to be the most serious settler uprising in years.

In one video, a crowd of Jewish settlers were heard reciting a Jewish prayer for the dead as they stared at the building in flames. Earlier, a prominent Israeli cabinet minister and settler leader had called on Israel to strike “without mercy.”

At least 20 vehicles and buildings were set on fire, according to Palestinian media, and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported that more than 100 people were injured.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged calm when videos of the violence aired on evening news programs. He said security forces were searching for the shooter and urged them to speak out against vigilante violence. do not take into your own hands.

The Israeli military said its chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Herzul Halevi, had rushed to the scene and the army was trying to restore order.

The Jordanian government, which hosted Sunday’s talks in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba, said the two sides would agree to take steps to defuse tensions and meet again next month before Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims. A riot broke out shortly after the agreement was announced.

“They reaffirmed the need to work to de-escalate and prevent further violence on the ground,” Jordan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

After nearly a year of fighting that left more than 200 Palestinians and more than 40 Israelis dead in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Jordan’s announcement showed a small sign of progress. However, conditions on the ground soon called those commitments into question.

Palestinians claim the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, as a future state. About 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The international community overwhelmingly views settlement as illegal and an obstacle to peace.

Prominent members of Israel’s far-right government called for tough action against the Palestinians.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the settler movement and responsible for much of Israel’s West Bank policy, said he would “attack the city of terror and its agitators without mercy with tanks and helicopters.” asked for

Using language calling for a more forceful response, he said Israel should act “in such a way as to convey that the master of the house has gone mad.”

An Israeli ministerial committee has given initial approval to a bill imposing the death penalty on Palestinians convicted of deadly attacks. The measure has been sent to lawmakers for further discussion.

There were also different interpretations of the exact content of the agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis at Aqaba.

Jordan’s foreign ministry said the delegation agreed to strive for a “just and lasting peace” and pledged to maintain the status quo of the disputed holy land in Jerusalem.

Tensions in what Jews worship as the Temple Mount and Muslims worship as Haram al-Sharif have often escalated into violence, with Israel and the Hamas militant group fighting two years ago during Ramadan. A war of days was provoked.

The most right-wing Israeli government official in Israel’s history downplayed Sunday’s meeting.

A senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity under government guidelines, said only that the Jordanian side had agreed to set up a commission to renew security ties with the Palestinians. , cut ties after a deadly Israeli military raid in the West Bank.

Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Tsati Hanegbi, who led the Israeli delegation, said there was “no change” in Israeli policy, and plans to build thousands of new settlements approved last week would not be affected. said.

He said there was “no freeze on settlements” and “no restrictions on military activity”.

Israel has pledged to legalize no more outposts for six months, or authorize new construction in existing settlements for four months, Jordan said in a statement.

Palestinians, meanwhile, said they had presented a long list of grievances, including ending Israeli settlement building in occupied territories and halting Israeli military raids on Palestinian towns.

Sunday’s shooting in Hawala came just days after 10 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli army raid in the nearby city of Nablus. It happened on the highway. His two men killed, a 21-year-old and his 19-year-old brother, were confirmed to be from the Jewish enclave of Har Bracha.

Hanegbi was joined by the head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency, who attended talks in neighboring Jordan. The head of Palestinian intelligence and an adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas also attended.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who has close Palestinian ties, led the discussion, with other mediators, Egypt and the United States, also participating.

In Washington, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan welcomed the meeting and the effort to reduce violence. “We recognize that this meeting is a starting point and that we have a lot of work to do in the coming months,” he said. “Implementation is very important.”

As Ramadan approached in late March, concerns were expressed about the severity of the crisis and increased violence.

In Gaza, Hamas, an Islamic extremist group that calls for the destruction of Israel, criticized Sunday’s meeting, saying the shootings were a “natural response” to Israel’s invasion of the West Bank.

“West Bank resistance will continue to exist and grow. There will be no plan or summit to stop it,” said spokesman Hazem Qassem.

Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. The Hamas militant group has since taken control of the Gaza Strip, while Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israel has pledged to continue its fight against militants in the West Bank, which is often under little control by the Palestinian authorities. Israel is also led by a far-right government that opposes concessions to the Palestinians and supports the establishment of settlements in the occupied territories sought by the Palestinians for a future state.

Violence between Israel and Palestine has surged since Israel stepped up its raids on the West Bank following a series of Palestinian attacks last spring. Bloodshed surged this year, killing more than 60 Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to an Associated Press tally. He killed 13 people a year.

Israel says the raids are intended to dismantle militant networks and deter future attacks. The Palestinian says it further entrenched her 55-year unrestricted occupation of land Israel wants for its future state, undermining its own security forces.

This year’s Ramadan coincides with the week-long Jewish Passover holiday, and worshipers of both religions are expected to flock to the holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City.


AP correspondent Omar Akour contributed a report from Amman, Jordan.

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