Canadian Friends of Peace Now decries and condemns Sunday’s vicious rampage by a large crowd of settlers on the Palestinian community of Hawara, West Bank, which saw one Palestinian killed, some 100 injured and much property damage inflicted.
We also condemn and decry the brutal attack that was used as the excuse for this violence: the murder by a lone Palestinian terrorist of two young brothers from the settlement of Har Bracha, gunned down while driving through Hawara.
Calming measures are sorely needed to stem the cycle of violence that is already spiralling out of control and threatens to become a full-scale conflagration. Even more imperative are initiatives that address the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sadly, the trend is in the opposite direction.
Settler attacks on Palestinian communities in the West Bank are nothing new, but the rampage in Hawara was particularly savage. Peace Now says: “Let’s call it what it is: a pogrom.”
Ha’aretz reports that some 400 settlers entered Hawara on Sunday, throwing stones and torching houses, cars and trees in a frenzy of revenge that lasted hours. The settlers had publicised their intentions on social media in advance, and this was known to Israeli security forces. But they failed to prevent the settler riot or to adequately protect the Palestinian residents once the riot was underway.
Certain Israeli cabinet ministers have issued feeble warnings that citizens should not “take the law into their own hands,” while inciting exactly that kind of behaviour.
On Sunday, Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel’s National Security Minister, told a group of settlers that “our enemies need to hear a message of…crushing them one by one.” After the Hawara debacle, Bezalel Smotrich, a finance minister who also holds a position in the defence ministry, appealed to settlers to allow Israeli security forces to “plan the appropriate response and let the ministry win” – hardly a rebuke of settler vigilantism. Before that Smotrich had “liked” a tweet by the deputy head of the Samaria village council which said: “the village of Hawara should be wiped out today.”
The matrix of the rising tensions in the West Bank is an Israeli government agenda of continuing military occupation, accelerated settlement expansion and thwarting any prospect of a two-state solution.
Says Peace Now: “This was the peak event of a long process that has been going on for years, in which settlers spare no means to implement their dangerous vision. Years of settler violence, land grabs, illegal establishment of outposts, and massive land seizure through settlements had lit a red flag in all of us that such an event would occur. Pogroms like these will happen again because this is the policy that the Israeli government is heading towards.”
We call on all parties, including international players, to take steps that can prevent further escalation of violence while creating a political peace-building horizon.
Tikkun, NSP, and Beyt Tikkun endorse this statement.
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