Top West Bank general says army was unprepared for settler ‘pogrom’ in Huwara

Brig. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, commander of the army's Gaza Division, speaks to soldiers in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)
Brig. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, commander of the army's Gaza Division, speaks to soldiers in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli general in charge of troops in the West Bank says vigilante settlers rampaging through a Palestinian town Sunday night carried out a “pogrom,” catching the military off-guard.

GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs also tells Hebrew-language media that he is worried clashes between soldiers and settlers will eventually lead to Israelis being killed, accusing the Jewish extremists of “spreading terror.”

Fuchs says troops were prepared for small-scale disturbances Sunday night following a deadly terror attack near Nablus earlier in the day, expecting groups of settlers to protest at junctions and throw stones at Palestinian cars.

Instead, dozens of people ran riot through Huwara and other nearby towns, leaving one Palestinian dead and several others injured, as well as torching homes and cars.

A man films with a phone outside a building that was torched overnight in the West Bank town of Huwara near Nablus, February 27, 2023. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

“What happened in Huwara was a pogrom carried out by law-breakers,” he tells Channel 12 news. “We were not ready for a pogrom on the scale of dozens of people with flammable material and the means to set it on fire, heading to 20 or more places — as well as confronting soldiers and commanders and police at the junction — and setting random Palestinian homes and cars on fire.”

“We were not prepared for that many people, how they came, the scale, the force of the violence they used, and the planning they had carried out,” he adds.

While taking responsibility for the army’s inability to stanch Palestinian terror, he slams vigilantism among settlers trying to deal with the issue themselves.

“This is not a case of ‘taking the law into their own hands.’ Because law-abiding people do not spread terror among a population and don’t throw stones at people randomly,” he says.

He notes that a fight between settlers and soldiers Monday night could have turned deadly, and worries that a future incident will lead to bloodshed.

“Last night, we almost had fatalities in a two-way incident in which [IDF troops] opened fire [when they felt under threat by a group of extremist settlers],” he says.

Fuchs also says that security coordination with the Palestinian Authority is indeed frozen.

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