Several dozen settlers rampaged through the Palestinian West Bank village of Umm Safa on Saturday, setting fire to vehicles and homes on the fifth consecutive day of vigilante attacks targeting Palestinian civilians since a deadly Palestinian terror shooting on Tuesday.
Palestinian media reported that the settlers burned several homes and cars and some fired shots toward a Palestinian television crew in the village located north of Ramallah. Video footage showed a group of Israeli settlers, some of them masked, opening fire.
The Palestinian Authority health ministry said an ambulance that was driving past the village was stoned and the driver was lightly injured.
The Israeli human rights group Yesh Din claimed troops of the Israel Defense Forces were present at the scene but did nothing to stop the settlers. The IDF said it had detained one Israeli suspect and dispersed the “violent friction” between settlers and Palestinians.
According to Army Radio, the settlers had driven to the village to carry out the attack. Observant Jews do not drive on the Sabbath, unless it is necessary to do so to save a life, based on the Jewish legal principle of pikuah nefesh — as it’s known in Hebrew — which trumps nearly all other religious requirements.
During the attack on Umm Safa, one soldier was lightly hurt by a stone hurled at him, the IDF said. It was unclear who threw the stone.
Today, Israeli occupation forces open fire at Palestinian journalists, causing damage to their cameras and vehicle in Umm Safa village, north of Ramallah. pic.twitter.com/rp3YSZJg8z
— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) June 24, 2023
“The IDF will continue to act with determination to stop any violence and destruction of property. The IDF condemns such incidents of nationalist crime,” the military said in a statement.
The detained settler was handed over to police for further questioning, the IDF said.
Israeli terrorist settlers shooting on Palestinians who came to defend themselves during the pogrom launched by the settlers earlier today.
— Younis | يونس (@ytirawi) June 24, 2023
The IDF’s international media spokesman also denounced the settler rioting, condemning the “acts of terror.”
“Shameful acts on the Sabbath,” Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said on Twitter in response to Germany’s ambassador. “This is not who we are. These are acts of terror performed by criminals. We are doing what we can.”
Shameful acts on the Sabbath .
This is not who we are .
These are acts of terror performed by Criminals .
We are doing what we can .
One of the Perpetrators has been handed over to the Police . https://t.co/kjRogsff9e
— Lt. Col. Richard Hecht (@LtColRichard) June 24, 2023
Opposition leader Yair Lapid said the violence “crosses all lines.”
“Torching homes and cars of innocents is inhumane and definitely not Jewish. Prime Minister Netanyahu needs to condemn this disgrace and deal with it severely. This is a moral disgrace and security threat,” Lapid tweeted.
The IDF has admitted having “failed” in stopping other settler riots in recent days.
Revenge attacks on Turmus Ayya and other villages followed the killing of four Israelis by Palestinian gunmen in a terrorist attack on Tuesday.
התפרעויות יהודים בכפר אום סאפא בבנימין: קבוצת יהודים נכנסו לכפר והחלו להצית רכבים ובתים פלסטיניים. עימותים פרצו בינם לבין התושבים הפלסטינים שכוללים זריקות אבנים הדדיות. כוחות הביטחון פועלים במקום@Doron_Kadosh pic.twitter.com/SR0VMVl1l3
— גלצ (@GLZRadio) June 24, 2023
Army spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said troops had tried to prevent Israelis from attacking Turmus Ayya, but they were stretched too thin.
“We didn’t have, in the first wave, enough forces in the area they chose,” he told journalists on Friday.
“We failed this time,” Hagari added.
Turmus Ayya residents told AFP they saw between 200 and 300 Israelis rampaging through their village on Wednesday, attacking residents and damaging dozens of houses and cars. One Palestinian man was killed in unclear circumstances during the violence
A delegation from more than 20 diplomatic missions, including those of the European Union and the United States, visited the village on Friday to inspect the damage.
The EU’s top representative to the Palestinians, Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorff, blasted Israel for failing to meet its obligations to protect Palestinians.
“There was no attempt or effort to stop the settlers,” he said.
Israeli police said on Friday they had arrested four people in connection with the violence, without giving details. They were being questioned by the Shin Bet security agency.
The United Nations human rights chief, Volker Turk, warned that “the violence, along with the inflammatory rhetoric, serve only to drive Israelis and Palestinians deeper into an abyss.”