Settlers rampage in Huwara, torch homes, cars after terror attack

Israeli journalists Shahar Glick and Josh Breiner reported that a Jewish gunman dressed in black clothes and a military vest and helmet fired at them and threw stun grenades at them.

 Israeli settler-Palestinian violence in Huwara in the West Bank, on February 26, 2023. (photo credit: Shlomi Heller/Walla)
Israeli settler-Palestinian violence in Huwara in the West Bank, on February 26, 2023.
(photo credit: Shlomi Heller/Walla)

Settlers torched Palestinian houses and cars in Huwara in the northern West Bank and attacked Palestinians throughout the West Bank on Sunday after two Israelis were murdered in a terrorist shooting attack in Huwara earlier in the day.

Israeli journalists Shahar Glick and Josh Breiner reported that a Jewish gunman dressed in black clothes and a military vest and helmet fired at them and threw stun grenades at them as they were covering the violence in Huwara.

Border Police, IDF soldiers, Fire and Rescue Services and Israel Police arrived at the scene to try and restore order.

Footage from Huwara taken shortly after the attack on Sunday afternoon showed a house belonging to a local Palestinian on fire, reportedly after it was torched by settlers. Later in the evening, settlers reportedly torched dozens of other homes in the town.

Israelis, Palestinians clash in Huwara

Dozens of Israelis arrived in the area of Huwara to riot on Sunday evening. Mosques in Huwara published messages calling on Palestinians to confront settlers in the area. Palestinians in the town burned tires in the streets of the town after the settlers entered the area. Footage from the town showed large fires that broke out amid the clashes.

Nine Palestinian families were reportedly rescued from burning homes by Israeli forces who arrived in the area in an attempt to restore order.

During the riots, a Palestinian was shot and killed by Israelis, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. It is unclear as of yet if the shots were fired by a soldier or a settler.

After hours of riots, Israeli forces managed to restore calm on the main road of Huwara.

Palestinians clash with Israeli forces on Gaza border

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip launched riots along the border with Israel on Sunday evening in response to the violence in Huwara, burning tires near the border fence.

Three Palestinians were injured after being shot by Israeli forces during the riots along the Gaza border, according to Palestinian reports.

Violence spreads throughout the West Bank

Additionally, amid the violence, Palestinians torched Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, according to Palestinian reports.

A house in Asira al-Qibliya, located northwest of Huwara, was torched by settlers as well on Sunday, according to Palestinian reports. Palestinian media additionally claimed that settlers near Salfit threw stones at Palestinian vehicles traveling in the area.

On Sunday night, a home in Burin was torched by settlers as well and cars near Ya'bad were stoned by settlers, according to Palestinian reports.

The Fatah movement and other Palestinian movements called on Palestinians throughout the West Bank to clash with settlers on Sunday evening.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, at least 98 Palestinians were injured in Huwara, including one who was stabbed, one who was assaulted with an iron rod and many others who suffered from tear gas inhalation. Three Palestinian ambulances were reportedly attacked and damaged.

Netanyahu calls for Israelis not to 'take law into their own hands'

Hours after the violent riots began, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the rioters not to "take the law into their own hands."

"I remind you that in the last few weeks [the security forces] have eliminated dozens of terrorists and prevented dozens of terrorist attacks," said Netanyahu. "Let the IDF complete the pursuit, don't take the law into your hands - and together we will defeat terrorism."

Later on Sunday night, Netanyahu held a situation assessment with the heads of the defense establishment.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also called on Israelis not to take the law into their own hands, stressing that the riots endangered Israeli citizens and harmed the operations of security forces who were hunting for the terrorist who carried out the attack.

President Isaac Herzog also condemned the violence, calling on Israelis to allow security forces to continue their operations to catch the terrorist and to restore order immediately.

Davidi Ben Zion, the deputy head of the Samaria Regional Council, called for "vengeance" for the terrorist attack and for Huwara to be "erased" in tweets on Sunday. The tweets were liked by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. Later on Sunday night, Smotrich published a statement calling for settlers not to take the law into their own hands.

Otzma Yehudit MK Limor Son Har-Melech arrived at the scene of the riots in Huwara on Sunday evening, saying she came to "support the righteous cry of hundreds of Samaria residents who came out to protest and demand security."

Additionally on Sunday evening, dozens of settlers arrived at the abandoned Evyatar outpost, saying that they had decided to reestablish the outpost in response to the terrorist attack. The return to the outpost was not approved by the government.

Border Police arrived at Evyatar later in the night to evacuate the Israelis who had arrived there.

Galant held a situation assessment on Sunday night and ordered the reinforcement of security forces throughout the West Bank and a rise in the level of alert in Jerusalem and around the Gaza Strip. The defense minister approved the immediate reinforcement of forces in the Jerusalem area and directed security forces to restore order in the West Bank.

The IDF Spokesperson's Unit announced on Sunday night that two additional companies would be sent to reinforce security forces in the West Bank.

The office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the riots on Sunday evening, stating "this terrorism and whoever stands behind it aims to destroy and thwart the international efforts exerted to try to get out of the current crisis."

Abbas's office added that the violence "confirms the lack of confidence in the promises made related to stopping settler terrorism and attacks on Palestinian citizens, and that what the settlers have done today is a translation of the positions of some ministers in this extreme right-wing Israeli government."