‘Not our way’: President condemns settlers’ ‘cruel and violent rampage’ in Huwara

Day after settlers burned homes and cars in West Bank town where two Israelis were killed, Herzog says Israel’s foundational principles forbid ‘criminal violence against innocents’

President Isaac Herzog at the annual Jerusalem Conference of the 'Besheva' group in Jerusalem, on February 21, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
President Isaac Herzog at the annual Jerusalem Conference of the 'Besheva' group in Jerusalem, on February 21, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

President Isaac Herzog released a strongly worded statement Monday in which he condemned the “cruel and violent rampage” by settlers in the West Bank town of Huwara a day earlier, which came just hours after a terrorist killed two Israeli brothers in the town.

Following the shooting attack Sunday that killed Hallel Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaniv, 19, dozens of settlers rampaged in the Palestinian town, torching houses and cars. A Palestinian man in a nearby town was killed by alleged Israeli gunfire during the rioting, though the circumstances remained unclear almost 24 hours later.

In the statement, Herzog said Israel “is a country of laws and we are proud of that. Our principles and our foundations as a nation and a country are totally opposed to any attack against innocents.”

“I strongly condemn the cruel and violent rampage against the residents of Huwara yesterday. This is not our way. It is criminal violence against innocents,” he said. “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.”

Alluding to deepening political divisions,  Herzog said Israel is “not going through simple days.” He urged both political leaders and citizens to act with “responsibility” and to “follow the law and allow security forces to do their work.”

“Terror will not conquer us. Violence and hatred will not conquer us,” he said.

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

“Our belief in the righteousness of our way, our restraint, our national resilience, the strength of the bereaved families and the support of the IDF and the security forces — they will remain the source of our strength, above all disagreements and against any enemy,” he added.

Commenting on Sunday’s terror attack, Herzog said “all of our hearts were torn in terrible pain” after the shooting, which he said took the lives of “two of our purest boys… just because they were Jews, just because they were Israelis.”

“We are holding their hands. Murderers must be held accountable for their actions, and so they shall be!” he said.

Alongside the worsening security situation, Israel has been roiled by increasingly bitter internal divides over the government’s plans to overhaul the judicial system, with Herzog encouraging the sides to engage in dialogue to hammer out a compromise reform package — so far unsuccessfully.

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