Reports about the Huwara rampage, during which a Palestinian man was killed and homes and cars were set ablaze by Jewish extremists, are “a false and despicable campaign” created to divert attention away from terrorist attacks against Jews, according to Otzma Yehudit MK Limor Son Har-Melech.
“The ‘settler violence’ campaign, which has been underway with full force, aims to remove the responsibility of the security forces for the unbearable situation and divert the discourse from the severe attacks we have experienced,” she said Tuesday in a statement posted on Twitter.
This is a “false and despicable campaign, one that confuses brothers for enemies and turns victims into attackers,” she wrote. “The murder of three holy Jews was pushed aside in favor of dealing with the reactions of civilians who felt abandoned.”
The reason for this diversion campaign is to ensure that the country continues to implement “the policy of containment that led to the intensification of terrorism,” Son Har-Melech said.
“It is easy to fall into this trap,” she added. “As elected officials, we must not get confused, [and we must] distinguish the main issue in order to treat it and have all the required strength for the real task – eradicating terrorism from the root.”
The “brothers” Son Har-Melech referred to were Jewish extremists who, in response to the terrorist attack that killed Israeli brothers Hillel Menachem Yaniv and Yagel Ya’acov Yaniv, invaded Huwara and began attacking Palestinians.
Six suspects who set cars and homes on fire and were reportedly arrested overnight were all released. Their retaliation has been condemned nationally and internationally.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (Otzma Yehudit) on Tuesday responded to a tweet by opposition leader Yair Lapid in which he called for the removal of Otzma Yehudit MK Zvika Fogel from the Knesset National Security Committee due to his inflammatory comments about Huwara.
“A day has passed since MK Fogel openly encouraged terrorism and announced that he supports burning a village with all its residents, and he is still the chairman of the National Security Committee,” Lapid wrote. “If he is not removed immediately from the committee, it is a disgraceful stain and a black flag flying over the head of the government.”
On Monday, Fogel tweeted: “Huwara is closed and burned,” and “that is what I want to see. Only thus can we obtain deterrence.” He encouraged the attackers, calling them the “strongest deterrent that the State of Israel has had since Operation Defensive Shield... After a murder like yesterday [Sunday], villages should burn when the IDF does not act.”
Ben-Gvir said while he would not compare “the righteous Fogel with [Yesh Atid MK] Ram Ben Barak,” he would not take Lapid’s comments seriously until Ben Barak was fired over comparing the Israeli government to the Nazi Party last week.
In response, Lapid said: “The blood of 14 murdered people is screaming out, and the minister of ‘TikTok and pita’ is busy as usual, whining and trying to blame others. Start working and stop whining.”
1/2 יממה עברה מאז ח״כ פוגל עודד בגלוי טרור, והודיע שהוא תומך בשריפת כפר על כל תושביו, והוא עדיין יו״ר הוועדה לבטחון לאומי. אם הוא לא יודח מיידית מן הוועדה זהו כתם מחפיר ודגל שחור המתנוסס מעל ראשה של הממשלה. >>— יאיר לפיד - Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) February 28, 2023
National Missions Minister Orit Struck (Religious Zionist Party) on Tuesday refused to discuss allegations that soldiers had fired at settlers after they attempted to run over the soldiers in Huwara.
“I am not ready to confirm, in any way, that what the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said actually occurred, because we have already been in a bad place with them, and especially with this spokesperson,” she said in an interview with Ynet.
Struck condemned the settler violence more directly than some of her political partners, telling “the settlers with boiling blood” that it is not up to them to take matters into their own hands.
“It is up to us as a government,” she said. “We need to act in a stately and orderly manner.”