Masked settlers from illegal Homesh outpost attack Palestinians in adjacent village

Military says troops ‘separate parties’ clashing in northern West Bank’s Burqa; medics say 3 Israelis, 59 Palestinians hurt

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Masked Israeli settlers from the illegal Homesh outpost in the northern West Bank attack Palestinians in adjacent village of Burqa, June 4, 2023. (Courtesy)
Masked Israeli settlers from the illegal Homesh outpost in the northern West Bank attack Palestinians in adjacent village of Burqa, June 4, 2023. (Courtesy)

Masked Israeli settlers from the illegal outpost of Homesh attacked homes and residents of the adjacent Palestinian village of Burqa in the northern West Bank on Sunday.

Surveillance camera footage shared by the Peace Now settlement watchdog showed over a dozen masked settlers running into Burqa, some armed with sticks and others hurling stones at homes.

A military spokesperson told The Times of Israel that violent clashes had erupted between settlers and Palestinians at a junction near Burqa. “During the incident, those present threw stones at each other, and the Palestinians set off fireworks in the area,” the spokesperson said.

The IDF said it had also received reports of settlers setting fires and causing damage to homes in Burqa.

“IDF forces were dispatched to the scene to separate the parties and used crowd dispersal means,” the spokesperson added.

The Samaria Regional Council claimed Palestinians had first hurled stones at cars on a road leading to Homesh.

Meanwhile, Palestinian media outlets published footage of the clashes, claiming the settlers had attacked the village first.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said it took two Israelis in their 20s in light condition to a hospital in Israel, after being wounded by stones hurled by Palestinians. A third Israeli was treated at the scene and did not require hospitalization, medics said.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said it had treated 59 people in the area, mostly as a result of tear gas inhalation.

A new outpost built at the Homesh site consists of a makeshift yeshiva that was illegally transferred last week from privately owned Palestinian land on an adjacent hilltop. The transfer was required in order to pave the way for the government to legalize Homesh, given longstanding pressure from the settler lobby. No building permits were issued for the transfer, and the security establishment expressed its opposition, fearing that formalizing settler presence in the flashpoint area would only lead to more friction with Palestinians.

However, the IDF was overruled by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich — a junior minister in charge of settlement affairs in Gallant’s office — and ordered the military to allow the building transfer to go through.

Several clashes between settlers and Palestinians have taken place in the days that followed.

View of the outpost of Homesh, in the West Bank, on May 29, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

While the international community considers all settlements in the West Bank illegal, Israel differentiates between settlement homes built and permitted by the Defense Ministry on land owned by the state, and illegal outposts built without necessary permits, often on private Palestinian land.

The clashes came as tensions between Israel and the Palestinians remained with the military carrying out near-nightly raids in the West Bank over the past year, in the wake of a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks.

A string of Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank has killed 20 people since the start of this year and left several more seriously hurt.

At least 114 West Bank Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year — most of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved civilians or were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.

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