Following the killing of two Israeli brothers in Huwara yesterday afternoon, a group of Israeli settlers descended upon the Palestinian town in a revenge attack, burning cars and houses.
An estimated 400 settlers entered the town and began to set fire to cars and homes. They also threw rocks at Palestinian cars and prevented a fire truck from extinguishing the fires.
More than 30 houses and shops and about 25 cars were burned in the attacks.
Israel Defense Forces reservists and the Israel Border Police tried to calm the situation and helped nine Palestinian families evacuate from their homes due to the fires.
Calm was finally restored after more than three hours.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, one person was killed and several others wounded.
Acts of settler violence were also reported near Ramallah.
This incident follows several other attacks by Israeli settlers over the last few days.
Acts of violence against Palestinians and even Israeli security forces by settlers are commonly referred to as ‘price tag’ attacks in Israeli media. The attackers typically claim they are only retaliating against Palestinian violence, or mistreatment from Israeli security forces.
Arrests and convictions for such attacks are very rare.
A senior politician, who spoke anonymously with the N12 news site, said the situation was critical.
“The prime minister instructed that the forces on the ground be reinforced as much as possible and that all residents of Judea and Samaria, Jews and Arabs, be protected. This event is liable to lead to a severe escalation and turn into an intifada, and we will find ourselves in a tsunami of terror. The next few hours are critical," he said.
Israeli politicians were quick to condemn the violence by settlers.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying, "A terrible tragedy occurred today. I would like to send condolences to the Yaniv family, which lost two of its dear sons; may God avenge them.”
He said that IDF forces were tracking down the attacker. He also called for restraint, saying, “I ask – even when the blood is boiling – not to take the law into one's hands. I ask that the IDF and the security forces be allowed to carry out their work. I remind you that in recent weeks, they have targeted dozens of terrorists and thwarted dozens of attacks.”
President Isaac Herzog also condemned the settler violence.
"Taking the law into our own hands, riots and violence against innocent people - are not our way and I strongly condemn it. We must allow the IDF, the Israel Police and the security forces to capture the despicable terrorist and restore order immediately," he said.
Israel's Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for restraint.
"My fellow residents, the pain is great, but believe me, we are working hard to provide a real response to terrorism, both militarily and with settlement. Since the terrible attack, we have only been preoccupied with this. But we must not take the law into our hands and create a dangerous anarchy that could get out of control and cost human lives,” he said.
He also asked for people to give the government time to formulate a proper response to the situation.
Smotrich was criticized for liking a tweet that called for Huwara to be “wiped off the map.”
Opposition leader Yair Lapid blamed Smotrich and his allies for the escalation in violence.
Following the attacks, the IDF announced they would reinforce the area with three battalions in an attempt to quell rising violence.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.