Revenge Attacks After Killing of 2 Israeli Brothers Leave West Bank on Edge

When a Palestinian gunman shot dead two Israeli settlers on Sunday afternoon in the northern West Bank, the residents of nearby Palestinian towns knew from long experience to await sporadic acts of revenge.

But few anticipated the systematic ferocity with which mobs from nearby Israeli settlements responded on Sunday night. Settlers burned and vandalized at least 200 buildings in four Palestinian villages near the site of the killings, according to statistics compiled by Israeli rights groups and Palestinian officials, in one of the most intense episodes of settler-led violence in memory. A Palestinian official said that one Palestinian had been killed in the settler attack.

Often acting within sight of Israeli soldiers, hundreds of settlers, some of them armed with knives and guns, set ablaze hundreds of cars and homes in a five-hour rampage to avenge the killing of the two settlers, brothers who had been shot dead as they drove through the Palestinian town of Huwara hours earlier.

“We usually say ‘God help the neighbors,’ because we aren’t usually affected,” said Ammar Damedi, 37, a gold trader in Huwara whose family lives beyond the areas often targeted in settler reprisals.

The focus of the settler violence was in Huwara, south of Nablus in the northern West Bank. Earlier Sunday, the two Israeli brothers, residents of Har Bracha, a Jewish settlement on a mount overlooking Nablus, were killed as they drove along the main road through the town. The brothers were to be buried in Jerusalem on Monday afternoon.

Palestinians were assessing the destruction in Huwara and surrounding Palestinian villages. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, that settlers had attacked houses in Huwara, stoning some and burning others.

The Palestinian who was killed was fatally shot in a village near Nablus, as a result of what the Palestinian health ministry called Israeli “aggression.” The exact circumstances were initially unclear, but Mr. Daghlas told Palestine Radio on Monday that the Palestinian had been killed by “settler gangs” who had come to burn the village. “He died defending his land, his home and his family,” Mr. Daghlas said.

More than 100 Palestinians were reported injured in the settler rampage, most from inhalation of smoke or tear gas. Palestinian officials said that one person had been stabbed and another hit with an iron bar.

The first two months of 2023 have been among the deadliest in years for both Palestinians and Israelis. More than 60 Palestinians have been killed in the occupied West Bank in the past two months, most of them during Israeli military arrest raids and in shootouts with the Israeli forces. The attack on the brothers on Sunday brought the number of Israelis killed by Palestinians this year to 13.

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