After two settlers were killed by a Palestinian gunman late Sunday, hundreds of Israeli settlers went on the rampage in the northern West Bank, torching homes and cars. According to Palestinian medical personnel, dozens of people were hurt.
After the fatal shooting and late-night rampage, Jordan’s claim that it had obtained promises from Israeli and Palestinian authorities to end a year-long wave of violence was immediately questioned.
Photos and videos shared on social media showed large fires burning throughout the town of Hawara, which was the scene of the fatal shooting earlier in the day, in what appeared to be the most serious outbreak of settler violence in years.
In one video, Jewish settlers were seen gazing at a burning building while they recited the Jewish prayer for the dead. Additionally, a prominent settler leader and minister in the Israeli Cabinet had earlier urged Israel to strike “without mercy.”
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported more than 100 injuries, and Palestinian media reported that at least 20 vehicles and buildings were set ablaze.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pleaded for calm as footage of the violence appeared on evening news programs. He warned against vigilante violence and stated that the gunmen were being sought by security forces. In a video statement, Netanyahu requested, “Don’t take the law into your hands when blood is boiling and the spirit is hot.”
The Israeli military claimed that Lieutenant Forces were attempting to restore order as Gen. Herzl Halevi rushed to the scene.
The shooting spree took place shortly after the Jordanian government, which hosted the talks on Sunday in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba, announced that the parties had agreed to take steps to reduce tensions and would meet again next month in advance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry made the announcement, “They reaffirmed the necessity of committing to de-escalation on the ground and to prevent further violence.”
The Jordanian announcement was a small sign of progress after nearly a year of fighting in the West Bank and east Jerusalem that killed over 200 Palestinians and over 40 Israelis. However, the situation on the ground immediately cast doubt on these commitments.
The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, which Israel took during the 1967 Mideast War. The West Bank and east Jerusalem are home to approximately 700,000 Israeli settlers. The majority of the international community believes that the settlements are illegal and pose a threat to peace.
The Palestinians should be dealt with severely, according to prominent members of Israel’s far-right government.
“Striking the cities of terror and its instigators without mercy, with tanks and helicopters,” said Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, a settler movement leader in charge of much of Israel’s West Bank policy.
He stated that Israel should act “in a way that conveys that the master of the house has gone crazy,” using a phrase that calls for a more forceful response.
A bill that would impose the death penalty on Palestinians convicted of deadly attacks received the initial approval of a ministerial committee in Israel. Legislators received the measure for further consideration.
Additionally, the precise terms of the agreement reached in Aqaba between Israelis and Palestinians were misunderstood.
According to the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, the representatives had pledged to maintain the status quo at the disputed holy site in Jerusalem and to work toward a “just and lasting peace.”