Army should've arrested Huwara rioters, Knesset Law Committee chair said

MK Gilad Kariv called the meeting in light of a number of high-profile incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Scenes from the vandalism caused by Israeli settlers on Palestinians cars and shops in the town of Huwara near Nablus, January 24, 2021.  (photo credit: HUWARA REGIONAL COUNCIL)
Scenes from the vandalism caused by Israeli settlers on Palestinians cars and shops in the town of Huwara near Nablus, January 24, 2021.
(photo credit: HUWARA REGIONAL COUNCIL)

The army should have arrested the Israelis who rioted against Palestinians in the West Bank town of Huwara, Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman Gilad Kariv (Labor) said Tuesday.

“What does the army do when it encounters violence?” he asked an IDF representative during a Knesset meeting on settler violence.

Kariv had called the meeting in light of a number of high-profile incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Last Friday, settlers attacked left-wing activists and Palestinians near the village of Burin, near Nablus, torching one of their vehicles and beating them with clubs and shovels.

On Monday, settlers in a convoy on its way to the Yitzhar settlement rioted on Route 60 in Huwara, near Nablus, stoning stores and people. Three Palestinians were injured.

 The scene where Israeli settlers attacked the cars and stores of Palestinians in the town of Huwara near Nablus, January 24, 2021.  (credit: HUWARA REGIONAL COUNCIL) The scene where Israeli settlers attacked the cars and stores of Palestinians in the town of Huwara near Nablus, January 24, 2021. (credit: HUWARA REGIONAL COUNCIL)

Both incidents were caught on highly publicized videos. In the Huwara videos, one could see soldiers at the scene.

No arrests were made, even though soldiers have the power to detain suspects and transfer them to the Israel Police, which has oversight on violent settler attacks against Palestinians.

“We saw photos yesterday from Huwara of violent actions by Israeli citizens when the army was there,” Kariv said.

“At that moment, soldiers were supposed to execute detentions and call the police,” he said.

Kariv said one of the keys to halting the phenomenon of Jewish extremist violence against Palestinians depended on soldiers, who are often the first responders to such incidents.

Left-wing Israeli organizations have long complained that soldiers are present during such incidents but take insufficient action and do not make arrests.

“We are troubled by the fact that even when there are blue [army] or green [army] forces at the scene, there are no detentions and no arrests,” Kariv said.

He asked a representative from the police and Judea and Samaria Region legal adviser Col. Asem Hamed for data on how many times detentions have occurred in such situations. They both said they did not have such data with them.

Kariv said he would formally request such data and hold another meeting.