West Bank experiences deadliest beginning of the year since 2000
2 shootings by Palestinian gunmen took place, prompting a group of Israeli settlers to riot, torching cars and vandalizing homes in a Palestinian town in retaliation
On Sunday, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israelis in the northern West Bank. The next day, a suspected Palestinian gunman shot and killed an Israeli in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli settlers “torched dozens of cars and homes in a Palestinian town” as retaliation on Sunday evening, and one Palestinian was killed during the chaos, The Associated Press reported.
“Settlers burned and vandalized at least 200 buildings in four Palestinian villages,” according to The New York Times.
The conflict marks the deadliest first months of the year in the West Bank since 2000. The violence comes at a time rife with tension, with many Palestinians upset with the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The impacts of the ‘right-wing’ Israeli government
The current government is considered to be “the most right-wing in Israel’s history,” and while Netanyahu called for peace, AP reported that “a member of his ruling coalition praised the rampage as deterrence against Palestinian attacks.”
“The government needs to decide what it is,” columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, per AP. “Is it resolved to enforce law and order on Arabs and Jews alike? Or is it a fig leaf for the hilltop youth, who do as they please in the territories? That same question also applies to the army, which has thus far failed to deal effectively with either Palestinian terrorism or Jewish terrorism.”
According to The Guardian, the head of national security, Itamar Ben Gvir, is over the police force and “has a conviction for inciting racism.”
A U.S. citizen was killed in Israel shooting
One of the people killed in the shooting on Monday was a U.S. resident. NPR reported that 27-year-old Connecticut native Elan Ganeles was in Israel to attend a friend’s wedding. He was traveling on the road when a gunman starting shooting at motorists.
“He wanted to celebrate his friend’s wedding, see his friends and go back to America,” Michael Landau, a friend of Ganeles, told CNN. “He was on his way to see a friend when he got murdered.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price called for a stop to “vigilante violence” in the West Bank.
“These events underscore the fragility of the situation in the West Bank and the urgent need for increased cooperation to prevent further violence,” he said, per CNN.