Several Palestinians and an Israeli settler were hurt Wednesday during clashes near the northern West Bank outpost of Homesh, in violence that erupted after European officials toured the area.
According to the Yesh Din rights group, several extremist settlers attacked Palestinians in the village of Burqa and set fire to homes. Video from Burqa showed residents trying to extinguish the blazes.
The Palestinian Red Crescent rescue service reported two wounded.
Meanwhile, the Samaria Regional Council and the Israeli Rescuers Without Borders emergency service said one Israeli settler was lightly hurt after stones were hurled at him by Palestinians.
It was unclear which side started the violence. Palestinians and rights groups have accused settlers from Homesh of attacking Palestinians in Burqa in the past.
There was no immediate statement from the Israel Defense Forces.
???? إصابات وإحراق حظيرة أغنام جراء هجوم شنه مستوطنون بحماية قوات الاحتلال على قرية برقة شمال غرب نابلس. pic.twitter.com/xRujCTuwpr
— بوابة الهدف (@hadafps) May 24, 2023
Yesh Din said the incident came after European Union diplomats visited the area around Homesh, a former outpost evacuated in 2005 after the High Court found it was built partly on private Palestinian land belonging to residents of Burqa.
Last week, the army lifted an order forbidding civilians from entering the site of the former settlement, which right-wing groups say they hope to resettle.
The Peace Now anti-settlement watchdog, which along with Yesh Din and Emek Shaveh led the tour for the diplomats, denounced the violence in Burqa as a “revenge operation” by settlers.
The EU’s mission to the Palestinians said that while in Burqa, the officials “heard about repeated attacks by settlers on residents from nearby settlement outposts, including the Homesh outpost.”
An EU spokesperson also slammed the military’s approval of an order last week allowing Israelis to again enter Homesh, which was one of four northern West Bank settlements demolished as part of the 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The measure has also been criticized by the US.
1/2EU ???????? and like-minded visited the Palestinian town of Sebastia and its ancient archeological site. Interlocutors, including the mayor, briefed on the Palestinian cultural heritage of the site and the village’s conservation efforts. pic.twitter.com/Bo5ZHko4tK
— EU and Palestinians (@EUpalestinians) May 24, 2023
Samaria Regional Council chief Yossi Dagan accused the EU officials of “fanning the terror.”
“The barbarity of the terrorists reinforces the obligation to rebuild Homesh,” Dagan said.
In March, lawmakers okayed a rollback of 2005 legislation that had placed the land of four northern West Bank settlements out of bounds for Israelis to develop, including Homesh.
The repeal bolstered the right-wing and religious government’s efforts to legalize a wildcat outpost currently on the site and a yeshiva that activists have tried repeatedly to reestablish since 2005. Over the years, authorities have frequently demolished structures at the site.
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.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.