Hundreds of Israeli settlers launched violent revenge attacks in the northern occupied West Bank on Sunday night, killing at least one Palestinian, injuring dozens, and burning down homes, shops, cars and farmlands after a Palestinian shooting attack killed two Israelis, Palestinian and Israeli sources said.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said in a press statement that Sameh Al-Aqtash, 37, from Nablus city, died after he was shot by Israeli soldiers during clashes with Israeli soldiers and settlers in the village of Zatara, without revealing more details.
The official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that rampage assaults have taken place also in the northern West Bank towns of Hawara, Burin and Einbus.
The Palestinian eyewitnesses said that Israeli settlers opened live ammunition at the Palestinians and threw Molotov cocktails at Palestinian houses and cars to avenge the killing of the two Israeli settlers.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society in the West Bank said in a statement that more than 100 Palestinians were injured during the clashes with the Israeli soldiers and settlers.
Israeli Radio reported that around 400 settlers demonstrated near Nablus and set fire to 30 Palestinian houses and 25 vehicles, adding that the Israeli army sent more soldiers to the area to restore calm between the two sides.
The Palestinian presidency condemns the Israeli settlers’ assaults on the Palestinians, their homes, and their cars in several villages near Nablus.
It added that the Israeli government is held “fully responsible” for the riots.
Video footage on social media showed huge fires and black plumes of smoke emerging from buildings in the area.
The office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians, said that Israeli soldiers were assisting the Palestinian rescue services to evacuate “dozens” of local Palestinians whose homes were torched by the settlers.
Photos issued by the office showed soldiers evacuating elderly women whose homes were attacked by the settlers.
Israel’s state-owned Kan TV news reported that the settlers torched a home while a family was inside, in addition to at least 15 other homes and about 30 vehicles.
The Israeli military said in a statement that large forces — including the army, the Israeli Fire and Rescue Services, and the Border Police — were called to the area in order to stop the “violent riots.”
The attacks began hours after senior Israeli and Palestinian security officials met in the Jordanian Red Sea resort of Aqaba and agreed to work toward de-escalation of soaring violence in the region.
A Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli brothers, residents of the Jewish settlement of Har Bracha, in a drive-by attack near Hawara, south of Nablus city.
The attack was the latest in months of soaring tensions which saw the killing of at least 61 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. ■