Israeli settlers torch Palestinian homes and cars to avenge deadly West Bank shooting

Palestinian residents looking out the broken window of a home
Palestinian residents look out the broken window of a home allegedly damaged by Israeli settlers in the West Bank village of A Laban al-Sharkiyeh.
(Majdi Mohammed / Associated Press)
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Hundreds of Israeli settlers on Wednesday stormed into a Palestinian town in the occupied West Bank, setting fire to dozens of cars and homes to avenge the deaths of four Israelis killed by Palestinian gunmen the previous day, residents said.

The settler attack came as the Israeli military deployed additional forces across the West Bank and as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to build 1,000 new settler homes in response to the deadly shooting.

The moves threatened to further raise tensions after two days of deadly fighting in the West Bank that included a daylong Israeli military raid in a Palestinian militant stronghold and Tuesday’s mass shooting.


Palestinian residents and human rights groups have long complained about Israel’s inability or refusal to halt settler violence. In Wednesday’s outbreak, residents of Turmus Ayya said some 400 settlers marched down the town’s main road, setting fire to cars, homes and trees.

Mayor Lafi Adeeb said some 30 houses and 60 cars were partly or totally burned.

“The attacks intensified in the past hour even after the army came,” he said. At least eight Palestinians were hurt during the ensuing clashes, which the army tried to disperse by firing rubber bullets and tear gas. By mid-afternoon, the situation was calming down, he said, though Palestinian hospital officials said three people were hurt by live Israeli fire.

The number of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank now exceeds 500,000, with advocates predicting faster growth under Israel’s new government.

Feb. 2, 2023

The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

Wednesday’s attack brought back memories of a settler rampage in February in which dozens of cars and homes were torched in the town of Hawara following the killing of a pair of Israeli brothers by a Palestinian gunman.

Tuesday’s shooting in the settlement of Eli came a day after seven Palestinians were killed in a daylong battle against Israeli troops in the militant stronghold of Jenin. The worsening violence has created a test for Israel’s government and prompted calls for a widespread military operation in the West Bank.

As Israel deployed more forces to the area, Netanyahu said he had approved plans to build 1,000 new homes in Eli.

An Israeli minister says there’s ‘no such thing’ as a Palestinian people even as Israel and the Palestinian Authority try to reduce tensions.

March 20, 2023

“Our answer to terror is to strike it hard and to build our country,” Netanyahu said.

The international community opposes settlements on occupied lands sought by the Palestinians for a future independent state. Netanyahu’s far-right government is dominated by settler leaders and supporters.


Israeli media identified the four killed in the shooting as Harel Masood, 21; Ofer Fayerman, 64; Elisha Anteman, 18; and Nahman-Shmuel Mordoff, 17. An Israeli civilian killed one assailant at the scene, while Israeli troops chased and killed the second shooter after he fled.

The Israeli army said it was beefing up its troop presence in the West Bank. On Wednesday morning, it said troops arrested three suspects in the Palestinian village of Urif in connection with the attack and mapped out the homes of the two gunmen ahead of their likely demolition.

Israel demolishes the homes of Palestinian attackers as part of a policy it says aims to deter others, but critics say the tactic amounts to collective punishment.

The militant group Hamas did not officially claim responsibility for Tuesday’s attack, but it identified the two gunmen — Mohannad Faleh, 26, who was killed by the civilian at the scene, and Khaled Sabah, 24, who was killed by the army — as its members.

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s attack, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian property in adjacent villages, causing extensive damage. At least five Palestinians were wounded in attacks by Israeli settlers, Israel’s army radio reported.

Tuesday’s shooting followed a massive gun battle between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops in the northern Jenin refugee camp a day earlier. On Wednesday, the Palestinian death toll from the raid rose to seven when 15-year-old Sadeel Naghniyeh died from wounds sustained in the gun battle, Palestinian health officials said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he would reverse his decision to fire Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, which had fueled antigovernment protests.

April 10, 2023

Some 90 Palestinians and eight Israeli soldiers were also wounded in the shootout.

Tuesday’s deadly shooting was the latest in a long string of violence in the region over the last year and a half that shows no sign of relenting. At least 130 Palestinians and 24 people on the Israeli side have been killed so far this year, according to a tally by the Associated Press.