Middle EastNews

What Is Happening In The Palestinian Village Of Huwara?

Since the start of 2023, at least 67 Palestinians, including 13 children, have been killed by the Israeli army and settlers, the Palestinian Health Organisation has reported.

Since the start of 2023, at least 67 Palestinians, including 13 children, have been killed by the Israeli army and settlers, the Palestinian Health Organisation has reported.

Hundreds of pogroms by Israeli settlers were reported on 26 February in the Palestinian village of Huwara, located in Nablus. Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian citizens and destroyed 30 homes and 100 cars, killing at least one man and injuring hundreds of Palestinians.

For several weeks, Palestinian people have suffered an unleashing of violence from the Israeli occupation forces and settlers in the West Bank. 

On that day, hundreds of Israeli settlers entered Huwara, a small town in the northern West Bank where tensions are never-ending. They threw stones at Palestinian homes and set fire to 20 buildings, garbage cans, and cars

According to Wajeh Odeh, a member of the Huwara municipality, more than 100 cars were set on fire, and 30 houses burned or damaged.

“We consider these acts to be acts of terrorism,” an Israeli army official told reporters, estimating that 300 to 400 settlers entered the Palestinian town in a spirit of “revenge.”

On 26 February, a Palestinian gunman shot two Israeli brothers in a traffic jam in the northern West Bank town of Huwara. The 20-year-old brothers lived in the illegal settlement of Har Bracha, south of Nablus. Following the incident, hundreds of Israeli settlers have carried out at least 300 pogroms, as described by authorities, in Palestinian villages near Nablus, in the occupied West Bank.

A Palestinian aid worker was shot and killed while Israeli forces and settlers were in Zaatara, another village near Nablus. The army said they did not shoot him. Samih Al-Aqtash, a 37-year-old Palestinian man, was shot in the stomach by Israeli settlers protected by Israeli forces. The father of five died of his injuries at the hospital. A few days ago, he was in Turkey helping earthquake victims.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, at least 390 Palestinians were injured in Israeli settlers’ rampage of southern Nablus, including Palestinian villages of Huwara, Zaatara, Burin, and Asira al-Qibliya. 

Attacks from settlers included stabbings and beatings using metal rods and rocks.

One day following the deadly pogroms, the Israeli government called on additional Israeli soldiers to be deployed in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian village of Huwara is on the road to settlements in the northern occupied West Bank. Here, the settlers reign terror. They have been raiding, beating Palestinians, and vandalising their property for months – all are under military protection. Galvanised by far-right ministers currently in power, they are spiraling out of control.

Huwara resident Nahawand Damidi told CNN, “[The Israeli settlers] usually attack us by throwing stones. If we try to defend ourselves, they will use weapons, but the last time was different. Wherever you looked, there were bullets, fires, fires everywhere.”

A week after the deadly pogroms, Israeli settlers called for a second rampage in the village of Huwara on Whatsapp groups. Of the messages that were spread online, one reads, “We want to create physically strong, brave and fearless Jews who fight back.”

On 20 March, Israeli occupation forces closed down Palestinian stores in Huwara after an Israeli man was injured in his vehicle that caught fire in the village, as reported by Wafa. Following the increased Israeli military measures taken after the deadly pogroms, Palestinian schools decided to close to avoid students being violently harassed by Israeli occupation forces.

Several NGOs and local human rights groups have condemned the attacks against Palestinians. According to a Ramallah-based NGO, “The horrific events carried out by Israel’s illegal Jewish settlers against Palestinian communities near Nablus yesterday is the result of decades-long impunity enjoyed by Israel and settlers for international crimes committed against Palestinians.”

When asked about the recent rampages in Huwara, the National Security Council spokesperson said: “We remain extremely concerned by ongoing violence in the region. We urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority to protect against further loss of civilian life. We have made our view clear: We oppose statements or actions by either side that exacerbate tensions.”

In a statement, Hamas accused Israel of releasing Israeli settlers who perpetuated the pogroms in Huwara. On 4 March, the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement said, “Releasing the terrorist settlers, who carried out the Huwara pogrom in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, confirms the fascism and racism of the occupation against the Palestinian people.”

According to Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Heba Morayef, “State-backed settler violence is endemic in the occupied West Bank. Towns and villages like Huwara, which was the epicentre of Sunday’s attacks, are frequently targeted as they are surrounded by illegal settlements.”

Based on a 2022 study published by the Israeli organisation Yesh Din, “93% of all investigations into settler attacks against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank were closed without an indictment between 2005 and 2022.” The organisation also found that “more than 80% of Palestinians’ complaints to Israeli police were not investigated at all.”

Since the start of 2023, 67 Palestinians, including 13 children, have been killed by the Israeli army and settlers, the Palestinian Health Organisation has reported.

Last Sunday, Israeli ultranationalist minister Bezalel Smotrich was invited to a Paris gala organised in the memory of French-Israeli Zionist activist Jacques Kupfer, where Netanyahu’s finance minister reportedly said, “There are no Palestinians because there isn’t a Palestinian people.” Following the attacks on Sunday that killed two Israelis, Smotrich called for the “wipeout” of a Palestinian town in the West Bank. He then apologised following international outrage.

The United States State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters, “We found those comments to not only be inaccurate but also deeply concerning and dangerous”.

In 2021, Smotrich made other inflammatory statements against Palestinians and Arabs when he stated that former Israel’s first Prime Minister should have finished the job and expelled all Arabs from Israel when it was created.

The finance minister also serves as a minister in the Defense Ministry, which gives him authority over civilian affairs in Area C of the West Bank, where Israel maintains military and administrative control of 60% of the territory. Smotrich aims to extend Israeli sovereignty to the West Bank and implement direct control by the central government and its ministries.