Settlers, army go on revenge rampage in West Bank

Women wearing headscarves crying and comforting each other

Palestinians mourn during the funeral of Omar al-Saadi on 29 January. He died of injuries sustained when Israeli occupation forces shot him in Jenin refugee camp days earlier.

Ahmed Ibrahim APA images

Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians across the occupied West Bank in revenge for the killing of seven Israelis by a Palestinian gunman at a settlement in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday.

This came as the Israeli government was set to arm thousands more of its citizens, a move certain to lead to more vigilante killings and violence.

The Israeli government also vowed to “strengthen” its illegal West Bank settlements in response to Friday’s shooting, using the bloodshed as a pretext to further confiscate and colonize Palestinian land – another move certain to fuel more violence.

Meanwhile, occupation forces began collectively punishing the gunman’s family by sealing off their home in preparation for a revenge demolition.

Israel is also vowing more collective punishments – war crimes under international law – including denying social security benefits to relatives of alleged Palestinian attackers and deporting their families.

These kinds of collective punishment are an essential feature of Israel’s system of apartheid, as they are only used against Palestinians.

Settler rampages

On Sunday, groups of settlers attacked Palestinian cars with stones on roads in several locations in the West Bank, including a crossroads near the Yitzhar settlement, close to Nablus.

In that location, settlers attacked Palestinians with pepper spray and one Palestinian was reportedly lightly injured by the stone-throwing Jewish colonists.

A house and a car were set ablaze in the village of Turmusaya near Ramallah overnight on Sunday.

A second house in the same village was vandalized:
Israeli police are reportedly investigating the incident, but there is vanishingly little chance anyone will be held accountable.

Palestinian American citizens own both homes, and maintenance staff plan to notify the US embassy of the attacks.

Settlers sprayed “revenge” and “death to the Arabs” in the village as well, according to Ynet, an Israeli publication.

Palestinians told media that Israeli soldiers in the area looked on and did nothing as the settlers rampaged.

Meanwhile, settlers uprooted and stole more than 100 olive saplings in the village of Aqraba near Nablus.

Settlers also set cars ablaze in Aqraba and Majdal Bani Fadil, another nearby village.
In Nablus, settlers vandalized a Palestinian ambulance:
They also reportedly damaged and destroyed tents used by farmers in the Jordan Valley.
Revenge attacks by Israeli settlers follow the killings of seven Israelis in Neve Yaakov, a settlement in occupied East Jerusalem, by Khayri Alqam, 21, on Friday.

Alqam, who was shot and killed by soldiers, is reportedly named after his grandfather who was killed by Israeli settler Haim Perelman in 1998, along with three other Palestinians.

Despite this, Perelman was later released. He lives in a Jewish-only colony in the West Bank.

Friday’s killings in Neve Yaakov followed Israel’s attack on Jenin refugee camp on Thursday in which occupation forces killed nine Palestinians, including two children and one woman. At least 20 people were injured in the Israeli attack.

A 10th person died from his wounds on Sunday. Israeli forces shot Omar Tariq al-Saadi, 24, in the stomach on Thursday, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Fueling more violence

The European Union strongly condemned the attack in Neve Yaakov as an act of “insane violence and hate.”

Brussels also made the inflammatory and false claim that the attack took place “in a Jerusalem synagogue” killing and injuring people “as they attended Shabbat service.”

But Israeli media accounts uniformly say that the shooting took place in a street “near a synagogue.”

By contrast, the EU retroactively endorsed Israel’s lethal attack in Jenin, saying that Brussels “fully recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concerns, as evidenced by the latest terrorist attacks.”

In reality, Friday’s shootings followed the Jenin massacre, which a UN official described as “the deadliest single Israeli operation in the West Bank since at least 2005.”

As Gideon Levy, a columnist for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, wrote on Sunday, “everyone knew the Jenin operation would set off a dangerous wave of violence.”

He said it was “not possible to invade the Jenin refugee camp without a massacre,” adding that “no massacre in the camp could pass quietly.”

Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq documented numerous violations of international law by Israeli forces during the deadly raid on Jenin refugee camp.

In one case, the Israeli attackers shot a Palestinian child and then “a military vehicle ran over his deceased body, severing his right ear and maiming his face.”

Following the Jenin massacre, Israeli media reported several attempts by Palestinians to attack Israeli soldiers or settlers.

The year 2022 saw the highest number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and settlers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since the second intifada nearly two decades ago.

According to The Electronic Intifada’s monitoring, 207 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli military, police and settlers in the West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel during the year, or died from injuries sustained in previous years.

So far in 2023, Israel has killed an average of one Palestinian every day, a fact little remarked on in Western media coverage, but one that is driving the violence.

Increased violence

Another Palestinian allegedly shot and injured an off-duty soldier and his father in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Saturday.

Media identified the shooter as 13-year-old Mahmoud Aleiwat.

The boy’s family denies that he could have been involved in the shooting, though he is reported to have left a message to his mother asking for forgiveness.

The soldier had his weapon on him and he shot the boy. Another settler also shot him.

The wounded soldier is in serious but stable condition, and his father is reportedly in moderate condition.

The child accused of the shooting is conscious and receiving treatment, according to Haaretz.

A relative of Mahmoud Aleiwat’s was shot by Israeli forces in Silwan days earlier.

Wadie Abdul Aziz Abu Rumouz, 17, was shot in the chest on 25 January. Even while Wadie was in the intensive care unit, Israeli authorities kept him under arrest.

He died from his wounds on Friday.

Israel is now planning on demolishing the 13-year-old boy’s family home, as well as that of Khayri Alqam.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian youth was shot and killed by a security guard near the Kedumim settlement in the northern West Bank on Saturday.

Karam Ali Salman, 18, had tried to enter the settlement armed with a pistol, the army claimed. Video of him was shared by local media.

It shows a person walking carefully through a field carrying an object:

Israeli media did not report any injuries among settlers.

Kedumim, which is built on private Palestinian land, houses Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich.

In another incident, Israeli soldiers shot a Palestinian truck driver who they claimed was attempting a car-ramming attack, but later admitted that this wasn’t the case.

The army said no one was injured in the incident.

Despite the spiraling bloodshed, Israel and its allies seem determined not to learn that more killings and oppression of Palestinians never quell resistance, but only fuel it.

Ali Abunimah contributed reporting.




No one of us can remember them all. But in our collective accounting, none will be forgotten. Each of these precious lives brought joy to those who knew them, and their friends around the world pledge today as every day to renew our devotion to the struggle. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.

Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.