Settlers target Huwara after two Israelis murdered in terrorist attack

The US State Department on Sunday condemned the terror attack which killed Silas (Shai) Nigerker, 60, and his son Aviad Nir, 28 from Ashdod.

 IDF soldiers at the scene of a shooting attack in Huwara in the northern West Bank. August 19, 2023 (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF soldiers at the scene of a shooting attack in Huwara in the northern West Bank. August 19, 2023

Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian vehicles and homes in the town of Huwara in the northern West Bank on Saturday night, according to Palestinian reports, just hours after two Israelis were murdered in a terrorist attack in the town.

According to Palestinian reports, settlers threw stones at homes in the town and at Palestinian vehicles north of Huwara while shouting "Arab, Arab!" Fires were lit by settlers in the town as well. Israeli forces were seen in live footage from the scene extinguishing the fires.

The Palestinian Authority Education Ministry announced that schools in Huwara would not open on Sunday morning due to tensions after the attack.

Saturday's terror attack in Huwara

Silas (Shai) Nigerker, 60, and his son Aviad Nir, 28 from Ashdod were killed in a terrorist shooting near Huwara on Saturday afternoon, according to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit.

Magen David Adom (MDA) said its medics had attempted to save Nigerker and Nir but were unsuccessful. The men were transferred to an IDF base for emergency medical care but ultimately succumbed to their wounds. 

 Israeli troops stand guard at the scene of a shooting, in Huwara, in the West Bank, March 19, 2023. (credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
Israeli troops stand guard at the scene of a shooting, in Huwara, in the West Bank, March 19, 2023. (credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

MDA spokesman Zachy Heller told the Israel media outlet N12 that when the medical teams arrived, the Palestinian Red Crescent's ambulances were already on the scene trying to save the victims.

A spokesperson for the organization also said the shooting had occurred at a carwash. It was unclear why Nigerker and Nir had stopped in the area as it's known to be a common area for terrorism, but Israeli media reported that they had stopped to do maintenance on their car.

Bus driver Avi Elharar told Ynet that he had chatted with Nigerker and Nir minutes before they were murdered.

"Suddenly, I heard gunshots, and I ran like a rocket against the wind," he said. "I felt like the terrorists were after me."

Elharar added that Nigerker had told him that he was at the carwash getting the air conditioning in his car fixed.

Employees at the carwash allegedly alerted the terrorist to the presence of people speaking Hebrew who approached the victims on foot and shot them from close range before running away.

Other reports said that the Nigerker and Nir had spent hours in Huwara.

The IDF said it had launched a search after the terrorist, closing roads around the town and the nearby Tapuach Junction. The search went as far as Nablus, where the terrorist was suspected of escaping.

At the same time, the Shin Bet arrested the carwash's owner and other Palestinians who had been in the area in an attempt to discover whether the terrorist was indeed tipped off.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a situational assessment with IDF Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi and other defense officials. He instructed the IDF and Shin Bet to secure communities and routes in Judea and Samaria, and to take all the measures required to capture the terrorist.

Local and international reactions to the terror attack

The US State Department wrote on Sunday: "We unequivocally condemn today’s terrorist attack in the West Bank that killed two Israelis. The United States expresses its condolences to their families and calls for immediate steps to end the violence and incitement to violence."

"I send my condolences to the family of the two victims, father and son, whose lives were cut short in such a cruel and criminal way over Shabbat," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "The security forces are working diligently to find the murderer and bring him to justice just as we have done with all the murderers so far."

"A sad Shabbat that finishes with the great pain of two victims, a father and a son, in a difficult terror attack in Huwara," said President Isaac Herzog. "I trust the IDF and the security forces to capture the despicable murderer. We must not let terrorism beat us."

"It was with great sadness that I received the news of a father and son who were brutally murdered by terrorists who are thirsty for Jewish blood," said National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir. "In these difficult moments, my heart goes out to the family. I hug them and send my condolences from the bottom of my heart. I trust the security forces who are currently chasing the abominable terrorist."

"The peace of Shabbat was broken by a deadly and despicable attack in Hawara," wrote opposition leader Yair Lapid on Twitter. "Two murdered, father and son. One family that joins the circle of terrible bereavement. I would like to send my condolences to the family and friends in this difficult time."

"On Shabbat afternoon, a father and his son were murdered in cold blood - this is the face of terrorism that we're dealing with," said former defense minister Benny Gantz. "I share in the family's grief and support the security forces who, as always, will capture the hateful terrorist and will continue to work night and day for our safety."

He added that "the security forces will get the despicable terrorist and his senders. Terrorism must be dealt with hard, persistently, and decisively."

Yesha Council head Shlomo Neeman called for a strong reaction to the terrorist attack, stating "Another shocking murder, again in the murderous village of Hawara. A father and son were murdered just because they were Jews. The authority in our country can’t just absorb attacks and hope that the wave of terrorism will simply pass. We once again demand that the government make security in Judea and Samaria a top priority and restore deterrence to the region."

"Our country is at war and we demand that we behave as if we are in a war - only a strong response against the murderers from the Palestinian Authority and their supporters will restore peace in the region."

Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad quickly celebrated the terror attack on Saturday.

"We congratulate the heroic shooter in Huwara who is the result of our continued promise of resistance to protect our people, respond to the crimes of the occupation, and defend Al-Aqsa mosque from the dangers of the Justification," said the terrorist organization's spokesman shortly after the attack.

Huwara is the scene of many terror attacks

Huwara has been the scene of many terror attacks as a main road cuts through the town, and Israelis driving on the road have no alternate route. Since the beginning of this year alone, there have been 10 terror attacks in the area. Six of these attacks were shootings, two were rammings, and two were stabbings. Four people have been killed in these attacks.

Previous terror attacks in or near Huwara were followed by settlers rioting in the town as revenge, burning cars and homes and wounding Palestinians. As such, Huwara's mayor instructed the residents to watch out and be prepared.

The IDF was also worried about the possibility of settler acts of vengeance and was on higher alert in the evening in the hopes of keeping the peace.

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.