The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
The fatality in a West Bank terror shooting earlier today is named as Israeli-American Elan Ganeles.
The Israeli Consulate in San Francisco says Ganeles is an Israel Defense Forces veteran and recent graduate of Columbia University in New York.
Ganeles, 27, was raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, where his family belonged to Young Israel of West Hartford and he attended Modern Orthodox schools.
At the Hebrew High School of New England, he was an honors student and volunteered with the local Jewish Family Services, according to an article published about him in 2014.
At the time, he said he was deferring enrollment at the University of Michigan, and enlistment in the US military, to spend a year in Israel. That time in Israel stretched beyond a year, and he enlisted instead in the IDF.
He then returned to the United States in 2018 to attend Columbia, where he graduated in 2022 with a degree in sustainable development and neuroscience, according to his LinkedIn account.
Ganeles’s funeral will take place in Israel and the family will return to Connecticut to sit shiva, according to an email sent to congregants from Young Israel of West Hartford.
The email says Ganeles was “murdered today in a brutal act of terrorism in Israel.” The synagogue will be offering the services of grief counselors to the community.
The Orthodox Union, a leading US Jewish group, condemns the settler rampage against Palestinians in the West Bank town of Huwara last night and calls for “strong leadership” to address the crisis.
“How can such a thing happen? How could it come to this, that Jewish young men should ransack and burn homes and cars?” says the Orthodox Union’s executive vice president, Rabbi Moshe Hauer. “We can understand the profound anguish at the horrific murder of young and dear friends. We can appreciate the frustration with the ongoing attacks on Jews and the lack of a decisive and effective army response. But we cannot understand or accept this.”
“Attacking a village does not deserve to be called ‘taking the law into your own hands.’ This is not the law; this is undisciplined and random fury,” Hauer says in a statement. “Actions like these demonstrate the critical need for clear and strong leadership. We need to speak consistently and clearly, pledging security and a decisive response to those who commit acts of terror and violence against Jews, but absolutely condemning and decrying indiscriminate violence committed by Jews against anyone, anywhere.”
“What happened yesterday must never, ever happen again,” Hauer says.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price says the Biden administration expects Israel to prosecute those responsible for yesterday’s deadly settler rampage of Huwara and provide compensation for the Palestinians whose homes and property were destroyed or damage.
“We expect the Israeli government to ensure full accountability and legal prosecution of those responsible for these attacks, in addition to compensation for the loss of homes and property,” Price says during the daily press briefing, calling the rampage “completely unacceptable.”
“Accountability and justice should be pursued with equal rigor in all cases of extremist violence and equal resources [should be] dedicated to prevent such attacks and bring those responsible to justice,” he adds.
Price again condemns the terror shooting on Sunday, in which two Israeli brothers were killed while driving through the northern West Bank town of Huwara, along with the terror shooting earlier Monday in which a 27-year-old Israeli-American was killed while driving near the West Bank city of Jericho.
The State Department spokesman expresses his appreciation for the remarks made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog, who called on Israelis to refrain from taking the law into their own hands.
He says the latest incidents of violence “underscore the fragility of the situation in the West Bank and the urgent need for increased cooperation to prevent further violence.”
Price then points to yesterday’s summit in Aqaba, Jordan, which was attended by Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian, Egyptian and American officials, during which the sides committed to taking steps in order to de-escalate tensions.
He notes that Israel agreed to hold off on advancing new settlement homes for four months and on advancing the legalization of outposts for six months, but declines to specify what the Palestinian commitments were.
In a second shooting attack in the West Bank within hours, an Israeli family came under fire while driving near the Palestinian town of Qusra, medics and local officials say.
According to the Rescuers Without Borders emergency service and local security officials, the car driving between Qusra and the settlement of Migdalim was hit with at least four bullets.
The gunmen, who fired from a passing vehicle, fled the scene.
The service said the driver, a young woman, was very lightly hurt after being scratched in the hand, apparently by glass shrapnel.
The attack came hours after Palestinian gunmen killed a dual Israeli-American citizen and opened fire on a number of other cars near the West Bank city of Jericho.
US State Department Spokesman Ned Price reveals that the 27-year-old Israeli man killed in a terror shooting earlier this evening near the West Bank city of Jericho was an American citizen.
“We condemn the horrific killing of two Israeli brothers near Nablus (yesterday) and the killing today of an Israeli near Jericho,” Price says during the daily press briefing.
US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides issues a confirmation of his own, tweeting, “I pray for his family.”
The victim’s name has not been released to the press.
Far-right anti-LGBTQ MK Avi Maoz announces he is resigning his post as a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Maoz, whose appointment to a role in which he was given oversight of external programming in the Education Ministry elicited national outrage by pro-liberal forces, says he will continue to serve the coalition as an MK.
Maoz is the sole representative of the homophobic Noam party in the Knesset, having run alongside far-right Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit in the November election.
In his resignation letter, Maoz says he has been frustrated by his inability to bring about meaningful change in his role, and “was shocked to find there was no serious intention of honoring the coalition deal regarding [the formation of] an authority of Jewish identity” that he would also have led.
A new poll by Kan news indicates Netanyahu’s coalition losing ground — though less so than in a recent Maariv survey.
The poll finds that if elections were held today, Likud would win 29 seats; Yesh Atid 26; National Unity 15; Religious Zionism 13; Shas 10; United Torah Judaism 7; Ra’am 6; Yisrael Beytenu 5; Hadash-Ta’al 5; Meretz 4. Labor and Balad would not make it into the Knesset.
The results leave Netanyahu’s right-wing and religious bloc with 59 seats compared to today’s 64.
Asked if they support or oppose the government’s judicial overhaul, 31% back it, 51% object and 18% don’t know. Meanwhile 64% are fearful of the potential economic consequences of the legislation.
The polls was conducted among 1,001 respondents aged 18 and up through calls and online surveys, with a margin of error of 3.2%.
The Health Ministry announces that a case of polio has been diagnosed in an unvaccinated child in Safed.
The child was brought into a local hospital with weakness in his limbs and was tested, leading to the diagnosis.
Health officials are now looking into the child’s contacts to identify any others who may have been affected.
Polio is a viral disease that mainly affects children and can cause disability, paralysis, and death. Today, polio vaccinations are standard for children and are an effective preventive measure, but vaccine skepticism has enabled the disease to pop up from time to time.
Washington has conveyed sharp messages of concern to Israel following a violent rampage by settlers in Huwara yesterday, Channel 12 reports, with top American officials telling Israelis that the US expects Jerusalem to act for immediate calm and to prevent a recurrence.
The report says the Americans were flabbergasted that such an event should happen on the same day of a summit in Jordan in which Israel agreed to push for calm.
It adds that the administration was “very disappointed” over the fact that Israeli ministers quickly and publicly rejected the understandings reached in Jordan.
“There was an Israeli commitment here and we expect them to live up to it,” an official tells the network.
The victim of the shooting attack near the West Bank city of Jericho earlier this evening has died, medical officials say.
Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus says it received a 27-year-old man in critical condition from the attack near the Beit Ha’arava Junction in the Jordan Valley.
“The injured person was evacuated during resuscitation efforts, which also continued at the hospital, but unfortunately the staff had to pronounce him dead,” the hospital says.
A senior security official with responsibility for West Bank security acknowledges “failure” in ensuring security for both Israelis and Palestinians, after two Palestinian shooting attacks and a settler attack on Palestinians.
I am responsible for the security of Israelis and Palestinians,” the unnamed official tells Channel 12. “I failed before both.”
Other security sources tell the network that MKs and ministers voicing support for radical settlers “are confusing the people on the ground. They need to decide if they are the law or not.”
Hundreds of people in Tel Aviv are protesting yesterday night’s settler riots in Huwara, blocking Kaplan Junction in the city’s center.
Protesters wave Palestinian flags and sport placards with anti-occupation messages.
Police clash with the protesters as they attempt to clear the road.
פינוי אלים של צומת קפלן בהפגנה נגד הפוגרום בחווארה אמש pic.twitter.com/fn6tvSYbWH
— Matan Golan (@MatanGolanPhoto) February 27, 2023
Police say the gunmen who carried out the attack near Jericho earlier set fire to their own car as they fled the area.
“We identified smoke and approached a vehicle on fire… and we realized that it was the vehicle of the terrorists,” says a police officer who was at the scene.
He says one of the gunmen aimed his gun at them, “and we immediately fired at the terrorists.”
The police officers attempted to pursue the attackers, but they fled toward the Jericho area.
Police commissioner Kobi Shabtai praises the officers for engaging the gunmen.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) February 27, 2023
After the opposition forced Netanyahu to appear before the Knesset plenum to face lawmakers’ criticism of his government’s policies, MKs vote in favor of Netanyahu’s statement to the plenum 55-53.
Senior Likud officials lash Otzma Yehudit for boycotting the session, saying the party’s decision to skip the discussion “is an irresponsible act against the right-wing government. When there is a left-wing vote against the right-wing government, everyone must attend.”
The United Nations Security Council will convene an emergency session tomorrow to discuss the latest spike of violence in the West Bank, a senior diplomat on the panel tells The Times of Israel.
This will be the third such session convened since the establishment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new hardline government two months ago.
The session will be held behind closed doors and include a briefing from the UN’s Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland, the senior diplomat says.
The meeting was requested by the United Arab Emirates — the Arab League’s representative on the Security Council — following a formal plea submitted by the Palestinian Mission to the UN.
In a forceful statement a day after settlers rioted and burned homes in the Palestinian town of Huwara in the West Bank, President Isaac Herzog says he “strongly condemn[s] the cruel and violent rampage against the residents of Huwara.”
He adds: “This is not our way. It is criminal violence against innocents. It harms the State of Israel, it harms us, it harms settlers. It harms security forces who are busy searching for those responsible for the terror attack, and most of all it harms us as a moral society and a lawful country.”
Herzog also says “all of our hearts, of all the people of Israel, are torn in terrible pain” over the murders of Hallel and Yagel Yaniv by a Palestinian terrorist hours before the mass riots.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid tells the coalition that liberal democracy is part of the essence of Israel, and to oppose liberal democratic values is akin to being against the state.
“If you are against liberal democracy, you are against the State of Israel,” Lapid says, at the close of a Knesset debate the opposition called to discuss the coalition’s plan to overhaul the judiciary.
“If you are trying to destroy our democracy, do not call yourself a patriot,” he adds.
Lapid continues, “You are not an Israeli patriot and you are not a Zionist if you do not believe in” a host of civil liberties and liberal values, including women’s rights, LGBT rights, the rights of the Arab minority within Israel, separation of powers, rule of law and the values of the Declaration of Independence.
“Liberal democracy is not just our system of government, it is what we are. That’s why the demonstrators are waving the Israeli flag, hundreds of thousands of Israeli flags. That’s why the Israeli flag is the symbol of resistance to your government,” the opposition leader says to Netanyahu.
At the Knesset a bit earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said only security forces should “avenge” yesterday’s deadly terror attack in Huwara, following settler violence in the Palestinian city and attempts to reclaim an illegal outpost.
“God will avenge their blood and we will avenge their blood,” the prime minister told the Knesset floor, specifying that “when I say us, I mean only Israel’s defense forces, the IDF and the security forces. They know how to do this.”
“We are in a continuing fight. Unfortunately there will be more terror attacks,” he added, shortly before news broke on the latest shooting.
A second Israeli-owned car came under gunfire near Beit Ha’arava Junction in the West Bank, medics say.
According to the Rescuers Without Border emergency service, the Israeli motorist continued driving until the nearby Almog Junction and reported to authorities.
The service says none of the passengers are hurt.
Medics say a man has been shot and critically wounded on the Route 90 highway, near the West Bank city of Jericho, in a suspected terror incident.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service says its medics are treating a 25-year-old man in critical condition from gunfire at Beit Ha’arava Junction.
The Israel Defense Forces says it is aware of the shooting but does not immediately provide further details.
The condition of Avraham Paley, who was wounded in a ramming attack in Jerusalem earlier this month, has improved.
Hadassah Medical Center says Paley is awake and communicating after weeks of being under sedation.
His condition remains serious.
Paley lost two sons in the attack — Yaakov Yisrael, 6, and Asher Menahem, 8.
The relatives of a Palestinian man killed during yesterday’s settler rampage in Huwara claim he was shot by soldiers as they attempted to defend themselves from the riots.
A cousin of 37-year-old Sameh Aqtash tells Haaretz that settlers accosted several homes belonging to the extended family, at which point members of the family emerged and clashed with them in a bid to defend their homes.
Ayman Aqtash claims a military force then arrived and attempted to separate the sides. In the confrontation, he said, the force began using tear gas and live fire against the Palestinians.
A military source has said Israeli troops were not involved in the shooting that killed 37-year-old Sameh Aqtash. There has been no immediate comment from Border Police officials on the incident, and it remains unclear if he was shot by settlers.
The Israel Defense Forces says it is bolstering forces in the West Bank with an additional battalion.
The Home Front Command’s 894th Search and Rescue Battalion, also trained for light infantry operations, will join another three additional battalions that have been deployed over the past day.
The bolstering of forces comes following yesterday’s deadly shooting attack in Huwara and subsequent rioting by settlers in the area.
Typically, the IDF’s West Bank division has 13 battalions. Over the past year, that number has fluctuated amid an anti-terror offensive following a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks, reaching a height of 26 battalions in October, before dropping back down by several battalions.
AFP releases a photo of the destruction in the Palestinian town of Huwara after settlers rioted and set property alight there yesterday.
Haaretz reports that some 40 buildings were damaged and 15 vehicles destroyed by the fires.
In a letter to the attorney general, 22 Israeli experts in international law warn that the violent rampage of settlers in the West Bank town of Huwara last night, including the killing of a Palestinian, could amount to war crimes.
They add that far-right politicians’ statements and tweets in the hour prior to the rampage and in its wake could also make them responsible for war crimes.
They call for “an immediate and effective probe” into settlers’ actions as well as leaders’ statements that may be seen as incitement to violence.
Police arrest a 17-year-old after he allegedly posted a video on TikTok in which he praised Palestinian terrorists and expressed his intention to harm Jews visiting the Asi Stream at Kibbutz Nir David.
Cops found the youth, a resident of Taybeh, on the kibbutz premises. He denied posting the video and claimed his phone was being repaired. Police then found the device in nearby bushes.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with incoming Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides last night, the Prime Minister’s Office announces. Christodoulides, who takes office tomorrow, expressed his condolences over the killing of the Yaniv brothers in the Huwara terror attack.
The two leaders also discussed bilateral ties, and agreed to hold another trilateral summit with Greece’s prime minister.
Netanyahu extended an invitation to Christodoulides to visit Israel.
Tor Wennesland, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the peace process, expresses his disappointment with the IDF for failing to prevent the vigilante mob attack on a Palestinian town last night, saying that “security forces have the responsibility to maintain security and prevent individuals from taking the law into their own hands.”
In a written statement, Wennesland says that he is “gravely concerned by the deteriorating security situation.” He expresses his condolences to the family of Hallel and Yagel Yaniv, the Israeli brothers murdered yesterday in Huwara, and the family of the Palestinian slain by Israelis during the subsequent rampage in the same town.
“There can be no justification for terrorism, nor for arson and acts of revenge against civilians,” he continues. “All perpetrators of violence must be held accountable.”
Former defense minister Gantz warns that Israel is facing “a security disaster,” exacerbated by parts of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government that Gantz says are “fueling terrorism.”
“Nowadays, there is no government in Israel – there is chaos,” says Gantz at his National Unity party’s Knesset faction meeting. “Those accused of terrorism and incitement, sitting at the government table and in the cabinet under Netanyahu’s auspices, are harming the deep security interests of the State of Israel,” he adds, in apparent reference to the far-right’s Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich.
Ben Gvir holds multiple convictions for incitement and supporting a terror group, while in 2005, Smotrich was held by the Shin Bet for several weeks on suspicion of terror, but was ultimately released without being charged.
“I am deeply concerned that we are facing a security disaster, and parts of this government are fueling terrorism,” the opposition party leader continues, slamming Netanyahu for “dragging us into a difficult and dangerous security reality.”
Gantz, a former Netanyahu partner, extends his criticism to several moderate Likud politicians, whom he calls a “Trappist monastery” for sitting silently while the “anarchists” in their coalition “set fire” to the land.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen will take off early tomorrow morning for Germany, to push for stiffer Western measures against Iran.
Cohen’s headline meeting will be with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock. He will push for the European Union to designate Iran as a terrorist group, and will urge Germany to formally give up on any return to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Cohen will try to use momentum from his Ukraine trip and growing European anger at Iran for its support of Russia’s military efforts to bring Western powers closer to Israel’s position.
“The visit to Germany is a strategic visit in the framework of the efforts to stop Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon,” Cohen says in a statement. “We will continue to maintain the important relations with Germany in the bilateral plane, and in the European and international arenas.”
Cohen and Baerbock spoke by phone in early January, when Israel’s top diplomat was making his initial round of calls upon taking office.
Iran says the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, will visit Tehran “in the coming days,” amid a dispute over uranium enrichment levels in the Islamic Republic.
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said earlier this month it was in discussions with Tehran after Bloomberg News reported that the watchdog’s inspectors in Iran had found uranium enriched to 84 percent purity.
Iran denied the report, insisting it had not made any attempt to enrich uranium beyond 60 percent, well beyond the 3.67 percent threshold set out in a landmark agreement reached with world powers in 2015.
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran now says Grossi will travel to Iran “in the coming days” following an official invitation from its director, Mohamamd Eslami.
“In recent days, we have had constructive and promising discussions” with the IAEA delegation already in Iran, AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi says.
“It is hoped that this trip will form the basis for greater cooperation and a clearer horizon between Iran and the IAEA,” he adds.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid says the government has “lost control” over Israel’s security and its own internal functioning, following Jewish settler riots in response to West Bank terror yesterday.
“Two months after the establishment of a ‘full-on right-wing’ government,” Lapid says, borrowing the far-right’s language, “the scope of [terror] attacks is increasing, terrorists are raising their heads, and the army is confused and does not understand its chain of command.”
The Yesh Atid party leader’s comments come a day after a deadly terror attack in the Palestinian village of Huwara killed two Jewish brothers and raised the number of terror victims to 13 since the start of 2023. In response, Jewish settlers went on an unprecedented rampage in Huwara, setting fires to homes and cars and killing one Palestinian.
Lapid blames both the settler violence and the precarious security situation on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, labeling it “weak.”
“What happened last night is complete anarchy,” Lapid says.
“This anarchy is created because in this government, everyone has their own policy,” he continues, noting deep disagreements between Netanyahu’s Likud and his far-right partners on how to handle West Bank policy, leading ministers to denounce the government’s own attempts at diplomacy.
Far-right police minister Itamar Ben Gvir “has one policy, [Bezalel] Smotrich, the political arm of the [radical settler] hilltop youth, has a second policy” as an independent minister in the Defense Ministry, while Defense Minister Yoav “Gallant has a third policy and Netanyahu is weak and unable to put them in their place.”
“Netanyahu and Likud formed a government with people walking in [far-right] marches, singing ‘burn their villages,'” he said, referencing a popular far-right refrain about Arabs. “So now these people have burned a village.”
Labor party chief Merav Michaeli says Otzma Yehudit MK Zvika Fogel should face charges for incitement to violence after he expressed satisfaction with settlers’ violent rampage against Palestinians in a West Bank village yesterday.
Michaeli says Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara should order a probe of Fogel and potentially file charges.
In a letter to the attorney general, Michaeli says Fogel’s comments “are extraordinarily grave… The distance between [such comments] and another pogrom against innocents is even shorter than one might expect.”
Fogel — the chairman of the Knesset’s National Security Committee — was unequivocal in his support for the riots that came in response to a terror attack earlier in the day, saying it was time to “take the gloves off.”
“Yesterday, a terrorist came from Huwara. A closed, burnt Huwara — that’s what I want to see. That’s the only way to achieve deterrence. After a murder like yesterday’s, we need burning villages when the IDF doesn’t act,” Fogel said.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid has also said Fogel should face criminal consequences for his statements.
National Unity party leader MK Benny Gantz says that the compromise the previous government reached on potentially approving illegal West Bank settlement Evyatar should be implemented, but that settlers cannot take matters into their own hands.
“There’s a need to stand by the agreement that we made,” the opposition party leader says in response to reporters’ questions about Evyatar. The outpost was once again evacuated today after settlers repopulated it yesterday in response to a deadly terror attack.
In his former position as defense minister, Gantz helped reach the Evyatar compromise, in which settlers agreed to vacate the illegal outpost. In exchange, the government was to conduct a land survey. If the results showed Evyatar to be built on state land and not private Palestinian land, the deal stipulated, the setters would be allowed to return.
Land mines left behind by the Islamic State group in central Syria go off in two locations, killing 10 workers as they collect truffles in the countryside and wounding 12, state media reports.
According to Syria’s state news agency SANA, the two mines exploded east of the central town of Salamiyeh. All the casualties were taken to a hospital in the town, the report added. It isn’t immediately clear what triggered the explosions.
It is not uncommon for mines left behind years ago, when IS controlled large parts of Syria, to go off inadvertently, usually when stepped on, inflicting casualties.
IS was driven out of all the territory it once held in Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2019, but the extremists left behind countless bombs and booby traps, and large areas have yet to be cleared. The group’s sleeper cells still carry deadly attacks both in Syria and Iraq.
The coalition’s far-right Otzma Yehudit party says it will boycott a Knesset plenum session today over the government’s West Bank policies.
“It is unacceptable for us to learn of diplomatic summits and agreements from the media… and unacceptable that residents of Evyatar should be evacuated contrary to coalition agreements and right-wing policy,” the party says.
A funeral procession has begun for Hallel and Yagel Yaniv, the two brothers killed in yesterday’s terror attack in the West Bank Palestinian town Huwara.
The two, 21 and 19, were shot dead as they drove through Huwara.
The procession has begun from the northern West Bank settlement of Har Bracha, where they lived, and will end at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, where they will be buried.
Hundreds of family members, friends and supporters are taking part in the solemn event.
Along the procession path, people are waving Israeli flags as the family passes through.
מסע הלוויה pic.twitter.com/6UnkOA9N0p
— חדשות הימין בטוויטר (@HdswtHymyn) February 27, 2023
Earlier, mother Esti said, “Words can’t describe this disaster. Instead of bringing children to the wedding canopy, we need to bury them.”
The IDF is conducting a manhunt for the gunman, who has not yet been apprehended.
After the attack, hundreds of settlers rampaged in Huwara on Sunday evening, setting fire to Palestinian homes and cars, shooting one man dead and wounding several others. A police investigation is ongoing.
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