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Arab League holds Israel responsible for deadly settler rampage in West Bank

A building and cars burnt in an attack by Israeli settlers are seen near Hawara in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on February 27, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

The Arab League holds the far-right Israeli administration led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fully responsible for the systematic crimes committed by extremist settlers, after they went on a violent rampage in the West Bank. 

The regional organization, in a statement released on Monday, said that such acts of aggression are being carried out under the protection, participation and support of the Israeli military, warning of their dire consequences across the Palestinian territories, the region and the world.

The 22-member bloc noted that the ongoing aggression, which falls within the context of Israel's repressive measures against Palestinians in Nablus, Jenin and other occupied West Bank cities, aims to thwart the international and regional efforts that seek to rekindle the Middle East peace talks, and revive the chances of a so-called two-state solution before it is too late.

The Arab League went on to stress that the escalating tensions in the West Bank are the upshot of the official positions and statements of the incumbent Israeli administration.

“The positions and statements of this administration are marked by intimidation, threats and incitement against Palestinians and their rights,” the organization said, adding that the current Israeli regime does not shy away from practicing all forms of hostility.

The pan-Arab organization also demanded measures that will force Israel into immediately stopping such gave crimes and recurrent assaults, calling for the international protection of Palestinians.

Moreover, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates called on the international community to provide international protection for defenseless Palestinians, and support the oppressed nation against Israeli terrorism.

“The appalling scenes of Israeli militia groups jeopardizing lives of ordinary civilians in Huwara, setting ablaze homes, cars and trees, and reducing them to ash and rubble are sickening and unprecedented,” the ministry said in a statement.

This Jewish settler terrorism is "financially, diplomatically, and politically facilitated and supported by every branch of the Israeli regime and celebrated by its officials,” the statement also read.

The ministry said that the Huwara carnage came a few weeks after Israeli officials expanded use of firearms amongst Jewish settlers.

"The State of Palestine holds Israel and Israeli officials fully responsible for settler terrorism and warns of its inevitable violent consequences. Settler terrorist groups are an extension of the Israeli regime. Terrorist groups and Israeli officials have been working hand in glove since Nakba to advance the regime’s declared criminal policies, like Jewish supremacy, ethnic cleansing, and the eventual displacement and relocation of Palestinians,” it added.

It added that "Nakba has never ended, noting, "Israel’s brutality, terrorism, and systematic displacement of Palestinians have lived on. Palestinian residents of Huwara are now enduring the horrors that their ancestors experienced 75 years ago. Israeli settler terrorism persists and is aimed to force Palestinians into submission."

The ministry called for serious action against such crimes, saying, "Empty condemnations and expressions of concerns will not protect defenseless Palestinians against Israel’s racial terrorism."

The Palestinian foreign ministry finally called on the UN Secretary General António Guterres to “immediately provide protection for the Palestinian nation. The international community must, without any delays, hold Israel and Israeli officials accountable for their crimes.”

The Israeli military sent hundreds more troops to the occupied West Bank on Monday, a day after a Palestinian man shot and killed Israeli brothers from the illegal settlement of Har Bracha, in the Palestinian town of Hawara in the northern West Bank. The gunman fled the scene.

Following the shooting, groups of settlers rampaged through Palestinian villages in the Nablus area of the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian officials say Israeli settlers carried out at least 300 attacks, including shootings and arson, in the rampage.

A 37-year-old Palestinian man, identified as Samih al-Aqtash, was shot in the stomach on Sunday night by settlers protected by the Israeli army in the village of Zaatara south of Nablus. He died of his injuries.

At least 390 Palestinians were injured in the settler rampage across the villages of Huwara, Zaatara, Burin and Asira al-Qibliya, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said.

It added that the majority were wounded from tear gas fired by the Israeli army as well as smoke inhalation from widespread fires set by extremist settlers.

"We expect difficult days ahead of us,” Israeli minister of military affairs Yoav Gallant said as he toured the largely empty streets of the village of Hawara with a heavy security detail.

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 far-right and extremist parties.

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