EU calls for protection of civilians, de-escalation amid rising West Bank violence

Statement from Europe’s foreign policy arm condemns fatal shootings in West Bank and settler rampage in Huwara, as violence continues to rise

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks during a media conference in Brussels on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022 (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks during a media conference in Brussels on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022 (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

The European Union expressed its concern Tuesday morning over recent deadly violence in the West Bank, calling for the protection of civilians and immediate de-escalatory steps.

The EU statement, released by the European External Action Service spokesman, specifically condemns Sunday’s terror attack in Huwara in which two Israeli brothers were murdered, and the Monday afternoon shooting in the Jordan Valley that claimed the life of an American-Israeli man.

The 27-member body also condemned “the outbreak of settlers violence, which resulted in the killing of one Palestinian, injuring of several hundreds of Palestinians and burning of houses and shops, causing the unacceptable destruction of Palestinian property.”

According to the statement, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell spoke with Israeli and Palestinian officials on Sunday night, saying that “violence and terror must stop, that all civilians must be protected and that immediate measures of de-escalation are necessary.”

All perpetrators must be brought to justice, the EU insisted.

The statement also commended Jordan, Egypt, and the US for convening Sunday’s summit in Aqaba on Sunday, which brought Israeli and PA officials together in an attempt to tamp down on the violence ahead of the month of Ramadan.

Cars burned by Jewish settlers during riots in Hawara, in the West Bank, near Nablus, February 27, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

On Monday, Elan Ganeles, 27, was shot to death while driving near the West Bank city of Jericho. In a separate attack on Monday night, an Israeli family came under fire while driving near the Palestinian town of Qusra, the military and medics said.

On Sunday, two Israeli brothers, Hallel Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaniv, 19, were killed as they drove through the West Bank Palestinian town of Huwara.

Elan Ganeles, who was killed in a terror shooting in the West Bank, February 27, 2023. (Courtesy of Consulate General of Israel in New York)

After the attack, settlers carried out a violent riot in Huwara in revenge. A Palestinian man was killed by gunfire during the riot and Palestinian media said some 30 homes and cars were torched.

A military source said Israeli troops were not involved in the shooting that killed 37-year-old Sameh Aqtash, though his family accused the IDF of his death.

The military has bolstered the West Bank with an additional four infantry battalions following the attack and subsequent rioting in Huwara.

In recent months, Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly targeted military posts and troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements, and civilians on the roads.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high for the past year, with the IDF conducting near-nightly raids in the West Bank amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks.

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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