Around 30 homes and cars were lit on fire by Israeli settlers in the West Bank after a Palestinian gunman shot two people Sunday, according to Palestinian media.
After the deadly shooting Sunday, which killed two settlers in the town of Hawara, crowds of settlers were seen setting homes and cars on fire late into the night, according to various reports. Palestinian medics said one man was killed and four more were injured as a result of the violence.
— Middle East Observer (@ME_Observer_2) February 27, 2023
The outburst of conflict undermines a statement from Jordanian authorities just hours earlier, which mediated talks between the Israelis and Palestinians and promised a reduction in tensions after recent escalations in violence.
At least one Israeli government official seemingly encouraged the settlers’ retaliation. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who lives in the area near the attacks, had called for “striking the cities of terror and its instigators without mercy, with tanks and helicopters,” according to The Associated Press.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attacks, calling them “terrorist acts carried out by settlers under the protection of the occupation forces tonight.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for restraint in a video statement. “I ask that when blood is boiling and the spirit is hot, don’t take the law into your hands,” he said. (RELATED: After Mass Shooting, Israel Moves To Expand Civilian Access To Guns)
Palestinian official Ghassan Douglas estimated that around 400 Israeli settlers participated in the attacks, according to The AP. One video showed a group of settlers gathered in prayer as they observe a burning building.
Violence has rapidly escalated in and around the West Bank and Jerusalem in recent months. Last week, an Israeli raid killed 10 Palestinians, sparking rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and retaliatory strikes from the Israeli military. Last month, a mass shooting outside a Jerusalem synagogue killed seven people.