Los Angeles Times

Israeli slain in latest West Bank violence

Palestinia­n assailants fatally wound driver, 27, as the U.S. tries to de-escalate worst such fighting in decades.

- By Majdi Mohammed and Ilan Ben Zion Mohammed and Ben Zion write for the Associated Press.

HAWARA, West Bank — A Palestinia­n gunman fatally shot an Israeli motorist in the occupied West Bank on Monday, the latest bloodshed in fighting that showed no signs of slowing.

The slaying occurred a day after a Palestinia­n gunman killed two Israelis in the northern West Bank, triggering a rampage in which Israeli settlers torched dozens of cars and homes in a Palestinia­n town. It was the worst such violence in decades.

The Israeli army said Monday’s attackers opened fire at an Israeli car near the Palestinia­n city of Jericho, hitting the motorist.

The assailants, traveling in one vehicle, drove farther and fired again, the army said. The attackers then burned their vehicle and fled, setting off a manhunt.

The 27-year-old Israeli motorist was taken to Hadassah Medical Center, where he died, according to hospital spokeswoma­n Hadar Elboim. The man was not immediatel­y identified.

Earlier, Israel sent hundreds more troops to the northern West Bank to restore calm after Sunday’s violence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, the most right-wing in Israel’s history, came under criticism for its failure to halt a surge in violence and for sending what some saw as mixed messages. As Netanyahu appealed for calm, a member of his ruling coalition praised the rampage as deterrence against Palestinia­n attacks.

The Israeli army also came under criticism for its failure to move quickly to stop the rioting.

“The government needs to decide what it is,” columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper. “Is it resolved to enforce law and order on Arabs and Jews alike? Or is it a fig leaf for the hilltop youth, who do as they please in the territorie­s? That same question also applies to the army, which has thus far failed to deal effectivel­y with either

Palestinia­n terrorism or Jewish terrorism.”

The events also underscore­d the limitation­s of the traditiona­l U.S. approach to the long-running IsraeliPal­estinian conflict: Washington has been trying to prevent escalation while staying away from the politicall­y costly task of pushing for a resolution of the core disputes.

As the violence raged in the West Bank, such an attempt at conflict management was taking place Sunday in Jordan, with the U.S. bringing together Israeli and Palestinia­n officials to work out a plan for de-escalation.

Sunday’s events began when a Palestinia­n gunman shot and killed brothers Hillel and Yagel Yaniv, 21 and 19, from the Jewish settlement of Har Bracha, in an ambush in the Palestinia­n town of Hawara, in the northern West Bank. The gunman fled and remained on the loose late Monday. The brothers were buried in Jerusalem.

Following the shooting, groups of settlers rampaged along the main thoroughfa­re in Hawara, which is used by Palestinia­ns and Israeli settlers. In one video, a crowd of settlers stood in prayer as they stared at a building in flames.

Late Sunday, a 37-yearold Palestinia­n was killed by Israeli fire, two Palestinia­ns were shot and wounded, and another was beaten with an iron bar, Palestinia­n health officials said. Some 95 Palestinia­ns were being treated for tear gas inhalation, according to medics.

On Monday morning, the Hawara thoroughfa­re was lined with rows of burnedout cars and smoke-blackened buildings. Normally bustling shops remained shuttered. Palestinia­n media said some 30 homes and cars were torched.

Shop owner Sultan Farouk Abu Sris said he briefly went outside and saw scores

of settlers setting containers and a home on fire.

“They didn’t leave anything. They even threw tear gas bombs,” he said. “It’s destructio­n. They came bearing hatred.”

At the scene of the shooting, Defense Minister Yoav Galant said Israel “cannot allow a situation in which citizens take the law into their hands” but stopped short of outright condemning the violence.

Shahar Glick, a reporter for Israel’s army radio station who was in Hawara, said security forces blocked the roads into town but were caught off guard when 200 to 300 settlers entered on foot.

He said only a handful of police and soldiers were there, even after activists had publicized the march on social media. The West Bank is home to a number of hardline settlement­s — several in the immediate vicinity of Hawara — whose residents frequently vandalize Palestinia­n land and property.

Some police, he said, even wished the protesters well, telling them to “take care of themselves.”

“For the journalist­s, it was clear to us from the outset, as we walked behind them, that this incident was developing,” Glick said. “It took a long time for the security forces to understand.”

Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, an Israeli military spokesman, said the army deployed hundreds of additional troops to the area with the aim of de-escalation. Two battalions were sent late Sunday and a third Monday, with several hundred soldiers each. The situation remained quiet late Monday.

Israeli police spokesman Dean Elsdunne said that eight Israelis were detained in connection with Sunday’s rioting and that six had been released.

Speaking at a settlement outpost reoccupied by Jewish settlers after Sunday’s shooting, the firebrand Public Security Minister Itamar

Ben-Gvir, the leader of the Jewish Power party, called for a “real war on terrorism” and legalizing the outpost, which troops were once again clearing.

“We must crush our enemies,” he said in response to the Palestinia­n attack. As for the settler violence, he added: “I understand the hard feelings, but this isn’t the way — we can’t take the law into our hands.”

Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog urged settlers not to engage in vigilante actions. Merav Michaeli of the opposition Labor Party condemned the rampage as “a pogrom by armed militias” of West Bank settlers.

In the ruling coalition, some fanned the flames.

Tzvika Foghel, a lawmaker from Ben-Gvir’s Jewish Power party, said the rampage would help deter Palestinia­n attacks. “I see the result in a very good light,” he told Army Radio when asked about what the interviewe­r referred to as a pogrom.

Palestinia­n Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he held the Israeli government responsibl­e for what he called “the terrorist acts carried out by settlers under the protection of the occupation forces tonight.”

The Palestinia­ns claim the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip — areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast War — for a future state. Some 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The internatio­nal community overwhelmi­ngly considers Israel’s settlement­s illegal and as obstacles to peace.

So far this year, 62 Palestinia­ns, about half affiliated with armed groups, have been killed by Israeli troops and civilians. In the same period, 14 Israelis have been killed in Palestinia­n attacks.

 ?? Majdi Mohammed Associated Press ?? PALESTINIA­NS inspect a damaged building in Hawara, West Bank, on Monday after a recent rampage in which Israeli settlers burned dozens of cars and homes.
Majdi Mohammed Associated Press PALESTINIA­NS inspect a damaged building in Hawara, West Bank, on Monday after a recent rampage in which Israeli settlers burned dozens of cars and homes.

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