Salem Radio Network News Tuesday, March 28, 2023


Israeli forces raid West Bank refugee camp, one dead

By Ali Sawafta

HUWARA, West Bank (Reuters) -Israeli forces raided a refugee camp in the volatile West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday and surrounded a house in an operation that killed at least one Palestinian and wounded four others, health officials said.

Israel’s Channel 12 television said the man was suspected of shooting two brothers from a Jewish settlement near the village of Huwara last week but there was no official confirmation nor immediate details on the operation from the Israeli military.

Footage circulating on social media showed helicopters over a column of military vehicles entering the city, one of the major centres of armed Palestinian factions in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Huwara, a Palestinian village near a major road junction where settlers and Palestinians have frequently clashed, has become the latest flashpoint in months of worsening violence in the West Bank.

Overnight on Monday, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians in the village, the scene of a violent rampage last week by dozens of settlers seeking revenge for the shooting of the two Israelis as they sat in their car in traffic.

Israeli army and border police forces dispersed crowds of what the military described as “a number of violent rioters” in Huwara. Videos shared on social media showed a group of black-clad youths attacking a Palestinian car before its driver manages to pull away.

“My wife was sitting in the back and she hugged our daughter to cover her,” said Omar Khalifa, who had just finished shopping at a supermarket and had got into the car with his family when the assault took place. “We could have lost her, there was real danger to our lives.”

Other footage appeared to show Israeli soldiers dancing together with Jewish settlers in the town on what was the Jewish festival of Purim. “Huwara has been conquered, gentlemen!” a voice is heard saying in Hebrew.

The military did not address a question about the footage of soldiers dancing with settlers when it responded to a request for information on the incident. Nor did it immediately respond to a Reuters query on whether there had been any arrests.

Last week, settlers torched dozens of cars and houses in Huwara after two brothers were shot by a presumed Palestinian gunman as they sat in their car at a checkpoint nearby.

The rampage, described as a “pogrom” by a senior Israeli commander, triggered worldwide outrage and condemnation, which was increased when ultra-nationalist Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has responsibility for aspects of the West Bank administration, said Huwara should be “erased”. Smotrich later offered a partial retraction.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken overnight reiterated calls for both sides to de-escalate tensions in the West Bank, and the violence is also expected to be raised by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin when he visits this week.

Since the beginning of the year, Israeli forces have killed more than 65 Palestinians, including militant fighters and civilians, while in the same period, Palestinians have killed 13 Israelis and one Ukrainian woman in a series of apparently uncoordinated attacks by individuals.

(Reporting by Ali Sawafta and Dan Williams, writing by James Mackenzie, editing by Ed Osmond and Mark Heinrich)


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