Palestinian West Bank Pogrom Sparks Human Rights Outcry

Israeli settlers destroyed the occupied West Bank on Sunday, violently attacking Palestinians and burning their cars, homes and businesses in what a rights group called a “pogrom” sanctioned by the far-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The settlers, who killed at least one Palestinian and injured hundreds more, launched their assault after a suspected Palestinian gunman shot dead two Israeli settlers as they drove through the West Bank.

Residents of the West Bank town of Huwara described the panic they felt on Sunday as settlers attacked their vehicles and shops and threw burning tires through the windows of their homes – all in front of soldiers. Israelis, doing nothing to stop the violence.

“I never thought about the house or all our things, I only thought about my children and how to save them from this nightmare,” said one resident. A look at the Middle East. “We got out of the house and got to safety with the help of paramedics who were also attacked while trying to evacuate us. Our lives are in danger and all this is happening while Israeli soldiers are just waiting to protect the settlers. »

The act of collective punishment inflicted by Israeli settlers, whose government-backed presence on occupied Palestinian land represents a violation of international law, has sparked outrage from human rights organizations, including the prominent group Israeli B’Tselem.

“The Jewish supremacist regime yesterday carried out a pogrom in the villages around Nablus,” the group said. wrote on Twitter early Monday. “This is not a ‘loss of control’. This is exactly what Israeli control looks like. The settlers lead the attack, the military secures it, the politicians support it. It’s a synergy.

“The Huwara pogrom was an extreme manifestation of long-standing Israeli policy,” B’Tselem added. “This was carried out by the State of Israel.”

The settler attack came days after Israeli forces killed at least ten Palestinians in a raid on the West Bank city of Nablus, just north of Huwara.

Israeli forces have killed dozens of Palestinians since the start of the new year.

Just two days before the deadly Nablus raid, the United States supported a watered-down UN Security Council statement expressing opposition to “Israeli construction and settlement expansion, confiscation of Palestinian land and to the “legalization” of settlement outposts and the demolition of Palestinians. “housing and displacement of Palestinian civilians. »

It is the first time in six years that the United States – which has veto power within the body – has authorized the UN Security Council to issue a statement criticizing Israeli settlements. But observers warned the statement would do little to deter Israel’s far-right government, which appears determined to expand settlements.

In a social media post Sunday, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price condemned the “violence” that took place in the West Bank, citing “the terrorist attack that killed two Israelis and the violence settlers, which resulted in the death of a Palestinian and injured more than 100 others.” and the destruction of vast properties.

In response to Price, Francesca Albanese — the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories — wrote, “I condemn Israel’s 55-year colonial occupation of the Palestinian territory (and the incitement recent history of Israeli politicians committing crimes) which is causing continued violence and despicable loss of life. »

“I also condemn the continued misrepresentation of this violence and its root causes,” Albanese added.

Netanyahu, for his part, simply asked the settlers not to “take the law into their own hands” and to let Israeli forces “do their job.”

An Israeli lawmaker, Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli, echoed B’Tselem’s condemnation of Sunday’s assault as a “pogrom” and said the settlers “draw their legitimacy from senior members of this government.” .

“This cancerous growth that threatens the country,” Michaeli added, “must be removed as soon as possible before it leads us to total ruin.”

The Palestinian presidency also accused far-right Israeli lawmakers – as well as members of the international community who continue to support the government –

​​for allowing Sunday’s assault.

“This terrorism and those who support it aim to destroy and thwart international efforts to try to emerge from the current crisis,” the statement said. “We are at a crossroads: either the international community must assume its responsibilities, under the leadership of the United States of America, by forcing the Israeli government to immediately cease its aggression and settler crimes, or the situation will enter into a difficult phase. circle of action and reaction.

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