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Palestine PM: Israel responsible for settler crimes in Nablus

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh (C) chairs a cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (File photo by Wafa news agency)

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has held the Israeli regime fully responsible for the crimes committed after deadly violence and arson by Israeli settlers targeting a town and several neighborhoods near the city of Nablus.

The premier of the Palestinian Authority (PA) made the remarks on Monday, during a weekly cabinet meeting in the city of Ramallah, the seat of the PA.

Shtayyeh said Israeli settlers overnight practiced the most heinous forms of crimes, including killings, setting fire to property, and terrorizing women and children. He said the Palestinian government will form a ministerial committee to assess the damage. 

Israeli settlers reportedly began attacking Palestinian areas overnight after a gunman killed two settlers in the center of the West Bank town of Hawara, south of Nablus.

Footage recorded following the incident showed settlers blocking a street in the nearby Hawara area, lighting fires and throwing stones toward Palestinian homes. According to Wafa, the settlers set fire to dozens of homes as well as other Palestinian-owned structures and vehicles.

A Palestinian man was also killed with a live bullet fired during an assault by settlers, who were backed by the regime forces in the area. The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the victim as 37-year-old Sameh Hamdallah Mahmoud Aqtash.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Palestinian prime minister denounced the Israeli parliament's preliminary approval of a death penalty law for Palestinian prisoners. Shtayyeh said, “This decision did not shock us because this government and others are already practicing extrajudicial killings against our youth and children, otherwise how else will the world explain the killings of more than 60 Palestinians in less than two months.”

He labeled such a law fascist and criminal, “which will not deter us from continuing to demand our rights, freedom, and dignity to live in an independent, sovereign, contiguous, and viable state with East al-Quds as its capital, and the right of return for refugees.”

UK slams Israeli settlers' violent attacks near Nablus

The British Consulate General in al-Quds in a statement condemned the settlers’ massive violent attacks against Palestinians and the killing of the Palestinian man.

“Horrified by scenes of settler violence in Huwara and nearby villages yesterday, with approximately 400 Palestinians injured and tens of homes, businesses and cars torched,” the statement said. “Settlers responsible for this violence must be brought to justice.”

“The UK condemns the killing of Sameh Aqtash during the same attacks by settlers and expresses condolences to his family. Sameh was a Palestinian aid worker who risked his life to save victims of the earthquakes in Turkey. We urge the Government of Israel to hold the perpetrators of this dreadful crime to account,” the statement said.

France "gravely concerned" over settler violence in West Bank

Also on Monday, the French Foreign Ministry condemned the attack by Israeli settlers, adding, "Violence against Palestinian civilians is unacceptable."

The ministry said there was a risk the situation in the West Bank could "deteriorate out of control."

France called on all parties "to avoid fueling the violence, and to contribute to de-escalation."

"As part of its responsibility as an occupying power," Israel needed to "protect Palestinian civilians" and find the perpetrators of the attacks in which cars and homes were set ablaze in the northern town of Huwara, the ministry said.

Israeli settlers and troops have escalated attacks on Palestinians since late December 2022, when Benjamin Netanyahu staged a comeback as the regime's prime minister at the head of a cabinet of hard-right and extremist parties.

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