In the aftermath of a deadly attack on Israeli civilians, an incensed mob of settlers launched a violent retaliation in the Palestinian town of Turmus Ayya on Wednesday. The onslaught, which included the torching of homes, vehicles, and fields, left a trail of destruction and terror among the local populace. The assaults extended to the West Bank village of Urif, marking a severe escalation of violence in the region.
A day of violence began in the wake of the burial service for Israeli victims of a recent Palestinian terror assault. A subsequent rampage by Israeli settlers left one Palestinian dead, identified as Omar Qattin, a 27-year-old father of two, and a further twelve injured. Four of those were casualties of gunfire, one of whom is critically wounded, according to the Palestinian Authority health ministry.
Residents maintain that Mr Qattin, an electrician by profession, was unarmed and distant from the scene of conflict when he was shot. The identity of his assailant remains undetermined.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) criticised the violence but neglected to mention any incidents of Palestinian casualties. Despite the devastating impact on Turmus Ayya, the IDF claimed that their forces had managed to disperse the settlers and that an inquiry was underway. Meanwhile, the police force is investigating a shooting incident involving their officers, who returned fire after reportedly being targeted during the riots.
In the aftermath of the settlers’ attack, Turmus Ayya’s mayor reported that around 60 cars and 30 homes had either been partially or entirely burned, with approximately 400 settlers implicated in the assault.
Repercussions of the settlers’ rampage reached international audiences, eliciting strong reactions. Both Egypt and Jordan’s foreign ministries condemned the violence, calling for international intervention to protect Palestinians, and immediate cessation of attacks on Palestinian settlements.
The violence continued later on Wednesday when settlers from the Yitzhar area launched an assault on the nearby village of Urif. Palestinian media documented these instances of violence, adding to the rising tensions in the region.
The surge in hostility between Israelis and Palestinians is following a year of escalating tensions marked by frequent military raids in the West Bank and recurrent deadly Palestinian terror attacks. This year alone, 24 people have fallen victim to Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank, with the death toll on the Palestinian side reaching 129, according to The Times of Israel.
Image Credit: Majdi Mohammed/AP