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Palestinians: End Israeli settler ‘terrorism’ or expect new intifada

The Palestinian Authority is urging the international community to intervene to protect Palestinians in the face of increasing settler violence that has left hundreds injured in the West Bank in recent days.

The Authority says the Israeli regime must be held to account for a surge in what it called terrorist attacks by settlers against defenseless Palestinians.

Meantime, Palestinian factions are calling for the formation of local protection committees across the West Bank.

On Saturday night, Israeli settlers and troops attacked the village of Burqa, injuring nearly 250 people during fierce clashes with Palestinians. Soldiers targeted them with live bullets, rubber-coated rounds, stun grenades and teargas.

The village has been a flashpoint of clashes in recent days. It sits near the site of a former settlement. The Israeli military destroyed that settlement in 2005. But now the settlers say they want to return.

Hamas praised residents of Burqa for resisting the Israeli incursion on Saturday, calling on Palestinians in the West Bank and in al-Quds to show support for the village.

The confrontations “by our heroes… are just an initial message, and the enemy must prepare for a comprehensive battle with all our people, to defeat and uproot the occupation and settlements,” Abd al-Hakim Huneini, a senior official in the resistance group’s West Bank division, said in a statement.

Palestinian groups and activists also warned that Israel’s practices and settler “assaults” against Palestinians in the West Bank will lead to a new intifada (uprising).

Some Palestinian activists said the intifada has already begun and called for escalating “popular resistance” against the Israeli troops and settlers.

“The intifada is already here,” said a senior activist belonging to the ruling Fatah faction. “What we are witnessing in the West Bank is similar to what happened during the First Intifada,” which erupted in 1987.

Another activist affiliated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said the growing resentment in the West Bank was also directed toward the Palestinian Authority.

“Many people are angry because the Palestinian Authority is not doing anything to defend them against increasing attacks by the Israeli army and the settlers,” the activist said.

Hamas and other Palestinian factions, meanwhile, renewed their call for stepping up “all forms of resistance” against Israel.

The Palestinian Authority, for its part, stepped up its criticism of the Israeli regime in the wake of the growing violence by its troops and settlers in the West Bank.

“At a time when the Palestinian people and the whole world celebrate Christmas, the settler militias, their armed terrorist organizations, the occupation forces and their various branches continue to escalate the aggression against the Palestinian people, their land, property, homes and holy sites,” its ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement.

The ministry said that settlers again had attacked Palestinians in various parts of the West Bank over the past week “with the participation and support of the occupation army.”

The Israeli regime is “fully and directly responsible for this expansionist colonial war,” it said, “which constitutes the true essence of the official Israeli policy toward the Palestinian people and their rights.”

The ministry called on the international community to put pressure on the Israeli regime “to stop its aggression and settlement policy immediately, and to truly engage in a peace process and negotiations that lead to the end of the occupation within a specific time limit and in accordance with the approved international peace references.”

Earlier, the PA ministry condemned as a “war crime” the death of a woman north of Ramallah after being run over by an Israeli driver.

The woman, Ghadeer Masalma, died after being hit by a car near the town of Sinjil.

The ministry described the incident as a “hideous extrajudicial killing carried out by a terrorist settler.”

Palestinian Islamic Jihad also called for the continuation of attacks on Israeli soldiers and settlers, saying this will inevitably lead to a “comprehensive intifada.”

Senior PIJ official Sheikh Bassam al-Sa’adi called for intensified cooperation between all forces and factions to protect our people in the face of conspiracies being hatched against them.”

Sa’adi denounced the security coordination between Israel and the PA security forces, saying it emboldened settlers to increase their “aggression” against Palestinians.

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