The US State Department condemned the killing of a Palestinian by an Israeli settler amid violent clashes outside the village of Burka in the Binyamin region of the West Bank on Friday, in a statement on Saturday night.
Two Israeli settlers were arrested on Saturday morning for their involvement in the clashes, according to Israel Police. One of the arrested settlers is the former spokesperson for Otzma Yehudit MK Limor Son Har-Melech, Elisha Yered, according to Hebrew language media. The second suspect was identified as Yehiel Indore.
The incident began after settlers from the Oz Zion outpost let their flocks feed on Palestinian land, according to an IDF report into the incident.
The violence began when Palestinians arrived to push the Israeli shepherds and their flock off their land, the IDF said.
When the Palestinians confronted the settlers, it turned into a verbal disagreement which escalated into stone-throwing and then eventually fireworks and gunfire which ended with one Palestinian dead.
The killed Palestinian was identified as 19-year-old Kosai Ma'atan, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
Incident escalated from verbal conflict to violence
Four Palestinians were also injured as well as a number of settlers, the IDF said.
Israel Police was investigating the incident alongside IDF personnel and Shin Bet. Two settlers were arrested as a result and another five were detained.
Har-Melech, whose former spokesperson was involved in the incident, compared the killing of Ma'atan to the killing of the terrorist in Tel Aviv, saying: "When a security guard in Tel Aviv eliminates a terrorist, he is applauded by all the security forces, but when a Jew defends his life in Binyamin from an Arab mob that rose up to kill him, he is arrested while wounded. I suggest that the security system direct its forces to deal with the nests of terrorism instead of persecuting the residents of Binyamin who hold on to our country with devotion."
"The writing was on the wall, written in Palestinian blood," said Hadash-Ta'al MK Ofer Cassif on Saturday morning. "The hateful racist, a former advisor to an MK in the party of the national terrorism minister, is suspected of murdering Kusai Ma'atan yesterday. This is what reality looks like when its controlled by Kahanist gangs who manage the country.”
Tor Wennesland, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, condemned the shooting on Saturday night, tweeting “I strongly condemn the deplorable acts of settler violence against Palestinians in the village of Burqa in the occupied West Bank, including the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old Palestinian during a confrontation with Israeli settlers from a nearby illegal outpost.”
We strongly condemn yesterday's terror attack by Israeli extremist settlers that killed a 19-year old Palestinian. The U.S. extends our deepest sympathies to his family & loved ones. We note Israeli officials have made several arrests and we urge full accountability and justice.— U.S. State Dept - Near Eastern Affairs (@StateDept_NEA) August 6, 2023
The US State Department condemned the attack on Saturday night, tweeting “We strongly condemn yesterday's terror attack by Israeli extremist settlers that killed a 19-year old Palestinian. The US extends our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones. We note Israeli officials have made several arrests and we urge full accountability and justice.”
"I note that two settlers have been arrested and five were detained following the killing. I call for this incident to be investigated and the perpetrators held accountable. We must deter further violence."
The right-wing legal defense group Honenu, which is representing the arrested men, explained that they had acted in self-defense.
It said that the incident began when a Jewish shepherd from Oz Zion was grazing his flock on land located between his community and that of the village of Burka.
Several Palestinians threatened the Jewish shepherd and he called for other residents of oz zion to come help him, it said.
At that point, “dozens of Arab rioters armed with clubs, fireworks and rocks began to attack the settlers in a severe and life-threatening manner. The settlers called the security forces and civilian forces to help them,” Honenu explained.
The rioters shot fireworks and rocks at the settlers, hitting one in the head, and seriously injuring him. He defended himself by shooting his weapon, it added.
The injured settler was rushed to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem where he was operated on for a head injury and remains in intensive care, the council said. It added that despite his injury, he has since been arrested on charges of killing a Palestinian rioter.
Police officers have been stationed by his bed at the hospital, Honenu said. It added that the second Israeli who was arrested for involvement in the death of a Palestinian man during the clashes had helped evacuate wounded settlers from the scene.
IDF denies delaying arrival to the scene
On Saturday night, the IDF published a statement rejecting claims that it had delayed arriving to the incident near Burka, stating that such claims are “not true and present a false image.”
According to the IDF, Israeli security forces only received a report about the incident an hour after it began. IDF soldiers who arrived at the location they were given, but were unable to find the incident as they were provided with the wrong location.
Almost an hour later, a second report was received about the incident and shortly afterwards IDF soldiers managed to locate the scene of the incident.