Cars torched in Palestinian town of Huwara in suspected settler hate crime

CCTV footage shows several men arriving in vehicles and attacking property before making their escape; police investigating

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

CCTV footage provided by Yesh Din, which campaigns against settlements, shows what the group said is a group of settlers damaging parked cars in the West Bank village of Huwara, February 18, 2024. (Courtesy Yesh Din)

Several cars in the Palestinian town of Huwara were vandalized Sunday night in what appeared to be a nationalistically motivated hate crime.

CCTV footage of the incident provided by the Yesh Din organization, which campaigns against West Bank settlements, showed two cars pulling up in the town. Eight people exit the cars and begin smashing windows and damaging several cars parked on the street before racing back to their own vehicles and driving off.

The Israel Police said it was looking into the incident.

Last week a truck was torched in Huwara and two Palestinians were shot and injured elsewhere in the West Bank in attacks attributed to extremist settlers.

Huwara in the northern West Bank became a focal point of attacks by extremist settlers in the region following several severe terrorist attacks perpetrated by Palestinians against Israelis driving through the town in the past year.

A bypass road to enable commuters to avoid passing through Huwara was opened in November.

The attack came the day after settlers allegedly attacked Palestinians in two other towns in the West Bank, throwing stones at children in al-Mufaqara and setting fire to a vehicle, and leaving racist graffiti in Turmus Ayya.

The reports came as Israel faces increasing international pressure to crack down on settler violence, with both the United States and the United Kingdom recently slapping sanctions on extremist settlers alleged to have carried out attacks on Palestinians.

At least 10 Palestinians were killed and dozens of homes were torched across the West Bank in settler attacks in 2023, Yesh Din charged in January.

The violence spiked after the October 7 massacre carried out by the Hamas terror group in southern Israel, in which some 1,200 people were slaughtered and 253 were taken hostage, but violence was already on the rise before then, according to watchdogs.

In October, the Shin Bet warned the government that the increase in settler attacks may cause an eruption of violence committed by Palestinians.

The West Bank has been under Israeli military rule since the 1967 Six Day War, while the Palestinian Authority has controlled parts of the territory since 1994. About 490,000 settlers live among approximately 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank in settlements that are widely considered illegal under international law.

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