US condemns Israeli settler rampage through West Bank

Washington calls for ‘accountability and justice’ following settler riots that left one dead, at least 34 Palestinians wounded and more than 140 vehicles set ablaze.

The US condemned the Israeli settler rampage against Palestinians on Tuesday and Wednesday in the occupied West Bank, which resulted in one person being killed, dozens more wounded, and vast amounts of property burnt to the ground.

“We condemn these violent acts and also extend our condolences to the families of those affected,” said US State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel on Wednesday.

“Accountability and justice should be pursued with equal rigour in all cases of extremist violence.”

Israeli settlers rampaged through several Palestinian towns in the West Bank on Tuesday night torching cars, setting farmland on fire and vandalising homes, in scenes reminiscent of a pogrom earlier this year in the village of Huwwara.

Then on Wednesday, hundreds of settlers, many of them armed, descended on the town of Turmusaya, protected by Israeli soldiers. The settlers attacked Palestinian residents, destroyed their property and a 27-year-old Palestinian man was shot dead.

Despite the Israeli military standing by as settlers stormed Turmusaya, Patel said the United States welcomed the army’s condemnation of the attacks, “and expect the Israeli government to ensure full accountability and legal prosecution for those responsible for these attacks in addition to compensation for lost homes and property”.

Dozens of Palestinians were wounded and at least 140 vehicles set ablaze, including an ambulance, over the two days, according to Palestinian officials.

No arrests have been made.

Huwwara resident Ziyad Ghalib had his house burnt down by settlers during a previous settler pogrom in February. Back then, he and his family were at home when the Israelis set it on fire, nearly dying from smoke inhalation before a narrow escape.

He told MEE that Tuesday’s assault was the fourth time they had been attacked.

“Nobody has come to check up on us, there has just been some media coverage but other than that, nothing,” he said.

“Nobody has given us any priority or importance, our lives feel worthless. The reality is that no one cares about us, we are not exaggerating.”

Tuesday’s settler rampage occurred hours after four Israeli settlers were killed in a shooting near the illegal Israeli settlement of Eli in the central West Bank.

Two gunmen were identified by Palestinian media as Muhannad Faleh Shehadeh and Khaled Mustafa Sabah, both of whom are from the village of Orif, south of Nablus.

Shehadeh was shot dead at the scene. Sabah was shot dead in nearby Toubas, Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency said.

The shooting followed a huge Israeli raid in the northern occupied West Bank city of Jenin, which killed seven Palestinians, including two 15-year-olds.

The US also took the opportunity to condemn Israel’s decision to build 1,000 new settler homes in response to the shooting on Tuesday, saying it will further “incite tensions” with the Palestinians.

“Unilateral actions such as this one – such as settlement advancement – will only incite tensions and undermine the prospect of a two-state solution,” Patel said.

Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land are illegal under international law.

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