Netanyahu calls for calm as far-right MK announces support for West Bank riots

IDF ramp-up presence in the West Bank in attempt to de-escalate riots following terror shooting


Palestinians walk past torched cars at a scrapyard in the occupied West Bank town of Huwara on February 27, 2023. - Two Israelis living in a West Bank settlement were killed on February 26 in a "Palestinian terror attack", officials said, sparking violence in which a Palestinian man was killed, while settlers torched homes in revenge. (Photo by Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP) (Photo by RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

The Israeli military has deployed two back-up battalions as well as Border Police unit to the West Bank following a deadly Palestinian terrorist attack and rioting by Israeli youth.

The eruption of violence comes after two Israeli civilians were shot dead while driving south of Nablus on Sunday, after reportedly being ambushed by armed terrorists. A mob of local Israeli teenagersw subsequently went on a deadly rampage through the nearby Palestinian village of Huwara.

Addressing the riots, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video message on Sunday: “I ask—even when the blood is boiling—not to take the law into one’s hands. I ask that the IDF and the security forces be allowed to carry out their work. I remind you that in recent weeks, they have targeted dozens of terrorists and thwarted dozens of attacks. 

“Let the IDF complete its pursuit and do not take the law into your hands; together we will defeat terrorism.”

However coalition MK Zvika Fogel of the far-right Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party — who chairs the Knesset’s National Security Committee — announced his support for the rioters.

“I want to restore security for the residents of the State of Israel,” the politician told Galey Israel Radio.

“How do we do that? We stop using the word ‘proportionality.’ We stop with our objection to collective punishment because it doesn’t fly with all sorts of courts. We take the gloves off.

“Yesterday, a terrorist came from Huwara. A closed, burnt Huwara — that’s what I want to see. That’s the only way to achieve deterrence. After a murder like yesterday’s, we need burning villages when the IDF doesn’t act.”

The Israel Defence Forces deployed additional forces in Samaria on Monday in an attempt to de-escalate the deteriorating security situation in the area.

“Following an IDF situation assessment, it was decided to reinforce the Judea and Samaria Division with two additional battalions,” the military said in a statement. 

“Furthermore, as part of the expanding security activity in the city of Nablus, it was decided to increase the security checks on routes leading in and out of the city. IDF, Israel Police, and Israel Border Police forces are currently operating in the Shomron [Samaria] Regional Brigade.” 

The Israeli defense establishment also raised the level of alert around Jerusalem and near the Gaza Strip. On Sunday night, rioters in Gaza burned tires and launched a disturbance near the border with Israel. 

The forces have spread out around flashpoints, raising their visibility and seeking to prevent further violence, according to the IDF.

“We are sending more forces to try and calm things down,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht told JNS on Monday. “We want as many forces on the ground as possible,” he added.

Border Police are also responding to an attempt by hundreds of activists to set up a new outpost at Evyatar, near Tapuach Junction in the northern West Bank where Sunday’s shooting occurred.

In the whole of Judea and Samaria, the IDF currently has some 28 battalions deployed.

One of the two Israelis murdered on Sunday was IDF Staff Sgt. Hillel Menachem Yaniv, 22, who served in the Israeli Navy as a sailor as part of a program for yeshiva students. His brother, Yagel Yaakov Yaniv, 20, was also murdered in the attack.

On Sunday, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant held a situation assessment together with leading defence officials.

Mr Gallant instructed security forces to focus operational and intelligence efforts on apprehending the perpetrators of the terrorist attack in Hawara while taking all measures necessary to prevent any additional attacks.

He also approved the reinforcement of troops in Judea and Samaria, according to a statement from his office.

“The Defence Minister instructed all security elements to act to calm the ground and to preserve law and order in the sector,” said the statement, adding that the IDF has been instructed to provide any necessary assistance to the Israel Police in securing Jerusalem.

Last Wednesday, 11 Palestinians were killed, most members of the Lions’ Den terrorist group, in intense gun battles that erupted when Israeli forces came under fire during an arrest operation in Nablus. 

The counter-terror operation in Nablus was launched to apprehend three individuals believed to be planning imminent terror attacks, and who were also suspected of involvement in the 11 October murder of IDF St.-Sgt. Ido Baruch, who was shot from a moving vehicle while securing a civilian march near Shavei Shomron in Samaria.

Israeli forces securing the operation came under fire from Palestinian rooftops, motorbikes, and vehicles, the IDF said, adding that it was looking into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Palestinian civilians in the operation.

JNS contributed to this report

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