The Sentinel-Record

Feb. 28 The Guardian (U.K.) West Bank violence


There could hardly be a grimmer demonstrat­ion of the challenge facing those who still hope to curb growing violence in the occupied West Bank. This weekend’s talks between Israeli and Palestinia­n security chiefs in Jordan were undermined within hours. These were the first such high-level negotiatio­ns in years, reflecting belated U.S. re-engagement, in the unpromisin­g context of a far-right Israeli government, a moribund Palestinia­n Authority and surging violence.

Within hours of the summit’s communique, hundreds of settlers were rampaging through the Palestinia­n town of Huwara with rocks and iron bars, shooting dead one man, leaving hundreds injured and torching cars and properties — retaliatio­n for the murder of two Israeli settlers by a Palestinia­n gunman earlier that day.

Settler violence is not new. Nor is the army’s failure to stem it. Increasing­ly, it appears not only widespread, but systemic. …

“A closed, burnt Huwara — that’s what I want to see. That’s the only way to achieve deterrence,” said the chairman of the Knesset’s national security committee. Bezalel Smotrich, the finance minister, who also has sweeping powers over civilian issues in the West Bank, liked a tweet saying that “the village of Hawara (sic) should be wiped out today.” (He later deleted it and echoed the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement that people should not “take the law into their own hands” — hardly a full-throated condemnati­on.) Several in Israel have described the attack as a pogrom. Yet only a handful of arrests were made, and police have released all suspects. …

As hope vanishes, younger Palestinia­ns are turning to groups beyond the control of establishe­d factions. Access to guns is growing. The weekend’s talks were spurred partly by concerns that Ramadan, which this year overlaps with Passover, has seen escalating violence in the past. The U.S. and others have seen poor return for the limited efforts they have invested. But Huwara is frightenin­g proof, if any were needed, that this government cannot be left to wreak more damage.

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