Israeli attack wounds Palestinians as settlers and soldiers dance

Five Palestinians have been wounded in a settler attack in Huwara, where soldiers and settlers danced together celebrating Purim.

A man takes pictures of a car with a bullet hole in its back windshield
A Palestinian takes a picture of a car after a settler attack on a family in Huwara, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on March 7, 2023 [Raneen Sawafta/Reuters]

Ramallah, occupied West Bank – Israeli soldiers have been filmed dancing with Jewish settlers on the streets of a Palestinian village where settlers attacked five members of the same family.

The five Palestinians were hospitalised after the attack on Monday night in Huwara, in the northern occupied West Bank, only a week after a settler rampage through the village that has been described as a “pogrom”.

An elderly man and a toddler were among those wounded in the assault, in which settlers attacked residents, cars and stores with live ammunition, hatchets, rocks and pepper spray.

The Idris family were in their parked car outside a supermarket when at least three settlers ambushed them in an incident caught on surveillance camera footage.

“The settler broke the car window and beat me with a hatchet. They sprayed tear gas on us all, we couldn’t open our eyes,” Omar Idris told local media. “When I got out of the car, I saw bullet holes on the car but I was too frazzled to notice in the moment,” he said.

Omar said that settlers beat Idris’s father with a rock, cutting his head open.

The Israeli human rights group Yesh Din said that Israeli soldiers were present at the incident, but did not stop the attack.

INTERACTIVE Palestinians killed by Israeli settlers in 2023 huwara
(Al Jazeera)

The Israeli military, meanwhile, said that its forces “had acted to disperse the [violent] incidents”.

Videos shared online and verified by Al Jazeera showed an elderly man bleeding from his head and Omar’s two-and-a-half-year-old daughter screaming in hospital after the attack.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said it treated 25 others on site from tear gas fired by the Israeli army during the attack.

“A family survives from the terrorism of the settlers in Huwara – the car they were in was shot at by a settler in front of the eyes, ears and protection of the occupation soldiers,” said Ibrahim Melhem, the spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority (PA) presidency.

“The murderers keep committing their crimes, as long as they feel they can get away with it,” he added in a statement.

Israeli settlers and soldiers were also seen on Monday night – the night of the attack – playing loud music and dancing together on Huwara’s main street on the Jewish holiday of Purim, in videos verified by Al Jazeera.

The Israeli military said it would investigate the incident, which was “not consistent with what is expected of fighters in operational activity,” according to a statement quoted in Israeli media.

These developments come just over a week after hundreds of settlers carried out a large-scale hours-long organised attack on the village, killing one Palestinian man, injuring hundreds, and setting fire to more than 30 homes and 100 cars.

The rampage followed the killing of two Israeli settlers by a Palestinian gunman on the main road in Huwara and was supported by several leading Israeli politicians.

Far-right finance minister Bezalel Smotrich also said that Huwara needed to be “wiped out”, in remarks that were widely condemned.

On Tuesday morning, Israeli settlers carried out religious rituals under Israeli army protection inside the Palestinian town of Kifl Haris in the northern governorate of Salfit in the occupied West Bank.

Israel has imposed a closure on the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip during Purim, which began on Monday and will end on Wednesday night.

The closure means that all Palestinians in the occupied West Bank with Israeli permits to enter Jerusalem and Israel will be forbidden from doing so, including those with permits for medical treatment.

Between 650,000 and 700,000 Israeli settlers live in hundreds of illegal settlements and outposts across the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem, militarily occupied by Israel since 1967.

The majority of settlers are armed and Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem suffer from hundreds of Israeli settler attacks each year, including shootings, stabbings, arson, beatings and rock-throwing.

Many of these incidents have been recorded on video showing that the attacks often take place in the presence of the Israeli army.

Israeli settler-related violence targeting Palestinians has reached its highest levels since 2006, the United Nations told Al Jazeera.

A daily average of three violent incidents per day has been recorded in 2023, compared with two incidents per day in 2022, and one incident per day in 2021.

2022 was also the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since 2005, according to the United Nations, with at least 170 Palestinians killed by Israelis in the occupied territory, including more than 30 children.

That trend has continued into 2023, with Israelis killing more than 65 Palestinians.

Thirteen Israelis and one Ukrainian have also been killed in Palestinian attacks this year.

Source: Al Jazeera