The IDF prevented a solidarity visit organized by left-wing organizations and Palestinians from reaching Huwara on Friday afternoon as activists headed to the town for a solidarity visit with its residents following settler riots that swept the town earlier this week.
The riots, in which one Palestinian was killed and many homes and cars were burnt, were revenge for a terror attack near the town in which two Israelis were murdered.
Israeli forces confronted the activists as they marched on the construction site of a new bypass road being built near Huwara. Protesters held Friday prayers at the site as well.
The protest was organized by the Standing Together and the Looking the Occupation in the Eyes organizations.
Former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg was reportedly at the protest as well, with video reportedly from the scene showing him arguing with security forces who began pushing him backwards.
A video of an elderly Palestinian showed him stating that "no matter how many of us you kill, we will not raise the white flag." Foreign activists who arrived at the scene chanted "Free Palestine" and Israeli activists chanted "no to the occupation," "we will not execute or die in the service of Zionism" and "shame".
A security source stated that while the defense establishment "has no issue with protests," security forces are operating at the moment to lower tensions and the area around Huwara has been declared a closed military zone.
Religious Zionist MK stages counter protest
During the protests, Religious Zionist MK Zvi Sukkot showed up at the scene holding photos of Hallel and Yagel Yaniv, who were murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Huwara on Sunday.
"The residents of the village of Huwara have been encouraging and supporting terrorism for a long time," said Sukkot. "For many years we have been warning that Huwara is a village that supports terrorism and is full of incitement. The attitude towards the village should be in accordance and the State of Israel should deal with it with a heavy hand and zero tolerance towards encouraging terrorism on the part of the villagers."
Another Israeli who was at the scene with Sukkot told the protesters to "go to Syria."
Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, the European Union representative for the Palestinian Territories, led a delegation of European representatives to Huwara and nearby towns earlier in the day. The delegation paid condolences to the family of Sameh Al-Aqtash, a Palestinian killed during the riots.
"We strongly condemn in the strongest possible terms, this act which destroyed property, which cost lives, which injured so many. People who live on their land doing nothing but try and build a future for their families, for their kids, were attacked at night," said von Burgsdorff, adding that the EU had intervened at the highest possible levels the night of the riots to call for calm from both the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
Hagai El-Ad, the director of B'Tselem, who visited the town with the EU delegation, claimed that the settlers who attacked the town on Sunday were protected by Israeli soldiers and pointed to recent statements by Israeli politicians supporting the rioters.
"Huwara is an outrage, but small Huwaras happen every day, every week, every night all over the occupied territories with impunity," said El-Ad.
On the night of the riots, footage from the scene showed IDF soldiers rushing to rescue Palestinian families who were trapped in homes torched by the settler rioters.
After the settler pogrom on Sunday, the IDF ordered Palestinians in Huwara to keep their shops closed. The order is set to expire on Friday evening.
On Thursday, eight of the settlers arrested on suspicion of involvement in the pogrom in Huwara were released under certain restrictions after the Jerusalem District Court accepted an appeal filed by the right-wing Honenu legal organization.
Two of the suspects were soon rearrested under an administrative detention order. According to a security source, the two were among the leaders and organizers of the riot and posed a risk for further violence against both Palestinians and Israeli soldiers if released.
The two were identified as David Chai Hasdai, a resident of the Givat Ronen outpost, and a minor from Yitzhar. The administrative detention order
Rabbi Shabtai Naumberg, the grandfather of the murdered Yaniv brothers, called for an end to the use of administrative detention against settlers.
"We must not confuse a lover with an enemy," said Naumburg on Friday. "All those who settle here, and all the young men who come are lovers of Israel, love the people of Israel and the Land of Israel and act out of great pain. On the other hand, all our haters are only celebrating our blood."
Naumberg stressed that while he does not "identify" with the riots that took place in Huwara, "it is clear that, first of all, these actions, even if they are not exactly legal, stem from the hearts of the friends of the murdered, who were ready to protest the blasphemy of God and the dishonor of the people of Israel who were here."