Far-right MK claims most fires in Huwara rampage were caused by Palestinians

Separately, security forces remove Religious Zionism MK who set up ‘parliamentary office’ in evacuated illegal outpost of Evyatar

Settlers pray as cars and homes burn in the West Bank town of Huwara on February 26, 2023. (Screenshot/Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Settlers pray as cars and homes burn in the West Bank town of Huwara on February 26, 2023. (Screenshot/Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Far-right Otzma Yehudit MK Limor Son Har-Melech claimed Thursday that most of the fires that swept through the West Bank town of Huwara were the fault of Palestinians and not by rampaging settlers.

“People misled the prime minister,” Son Har-Melech, who was in Huwara after the attack, told the Ynet news site. “Most of the fires in Huwara were caused by fireworks shot by Arab rioters.”

The comments came amid an outpouring of shock and horror in Israel and abroad after settlers ransacked the Palestinian town and surrounding villages Sunday night and set dozens of buildings and vehicles on fire in revenge for a terror attack in which two Israeli brothers driving through the town were gunned down hours earlier.

One Palestinian man was killed and hundreds more were injured during the rampage, which Israel’s top general in the West Bank referred to as a “pogrom.”

Video from the scene clearly showed groups of settlers setting fires at several locations.

The MK’s claims follow a series of statements from other far-right lawmakers that appeared to relish the settler rampage.

Otzma Yehudit MK Limor Son Har Melech seen after a meeting of the Religious Zionism party at the Knesset in Jerusalem, February 15, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“I want to restore security for the residents of the State of Israel,” fellow Otzma Yehudit MK Zvika Fogel said the morning after the rampage. “How do we do that? We stop using the word ‘proportionality.’ We stop with our objection to collective punishment [just] because it doesn’t fly with all sorts of courts. We take the gloves off.

“Yesterday, a terrorist came from Huwara. A closed, burnt Huwara — that’s what I want to see,” he told Galey Israel Radio. “That’s the only way to achieve deterrence. After a murder like yesterday’s, we need burning villages when the IDF doesn’t act.”

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said he wanted the government to “wipe out” Huwara.

“I think the village of Huwara needs to be wiped out. I think the State of Israel should do it,” he told a panel discussion.

Both Smotrich, of the Religious Zionism party, and Fogel later tried to walk back their comments.

This picture taken on February 27, 2023, shows an aerial view of a scrapyard where cars were torched overnight, in the Palestinian town of Huwara near Nablus in the West Bank (RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP)

Separately Thursday, police removed an “office” set up by another Religious Zionism MK, Zvi Sukkot, at the site of the unauthorized Evyatar outpost.

Security forces evacuated Evyatar on Monday morning after hundreds of settlers spent the night on the West Bank hilltop, vowing to resettle the site in response to the killing of two Israeli brothers the day before.

Sukkot, a long-time Evyatar activist, had tried to use his parliamentary immunity to set up an office at the site.

“Currently, this is a closed military area, so the ascent to it is illegal and it distracts the security forces from the pursuit of the terrorist from Huwara and from the task of protecting the roads and settlements,” a security official told Channel 12 news.

Sukkot said he had set up the office to monitor the coalition agreement that reportedly allows the re-establishment of the outpost at Evyatar.

Otzma Yedudit MK Zvi Sukkot sets up a “parliamentary office” in the evacuated illegal outpost of Evyatar on March , 2023 (Courtesy)

“I am working with all my might so that the government fulfills its commitment to establish a permanent settlement here in Evyatar,” he said.

The outpost had been vacant since 2021, when residents agreed to leave as part of a deal with the government, which pledged not to raze their homes while the state carried out a survey to determine what parts of the hilltop could be built on and what areas are under private Palestinian ownership.

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