Sunday, February 26, 2023

In the West Bank, 2 Israeli settlers were shot and killed while driving through Huwwara. Around 400 Israeli settlers then raided Huwwara and the surrounding villages ‘Asira al-Qibliya, Za’atara, Yasuf, Odala, and Burin in what was described as a pogrom, killing 1 Palestinian, wounding more than 200, and damaging 75 houses, including 35 that were burned, and 265 cars over a 5-hour period. 6 Israeli settlers were reportedly arrested, 4 of whom were released on restrictive conditions. The mayor of Huwwara estimated that around $5 million worth of property was damaged. Israeli soldiers were criticized for being present without preventing the attacks. Israeli forces shot and injured 1 Palestinian during a raid in Tuqu’. Israeli forces also seized 1 vehicle and 2 tractors in Khirbet Humsa and leveled land in Birin. In East Jerusalem, Israeli settlers toured the Haram al-Sharif compound. In Gaza, Israeli forces made incursions and leveled land northeast of Beit Hanun. (AJ, ALM, BBC, F24, HA, HA, MEE, MEE, NYT, REU, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 2/26; AJ, AJ, ALM, AP, AP, AX, GDN, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, MEE, MEE, MEE, NYT, PCHR, TOI, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 2/27; AJ, ALM, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, MEE, WAFA 2/28; GDN, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, MEE, REU, WAFA 3/1; HA, HA, PCHR 3/2; WAFA 3/3; HA, UNOCHA 3/4; HA, HA, HA 3/5; HA 3/6; HA 3/14)

In response to the events in Huwwara, PA president Mahmoud Abbas called the raid terrorism and said he held the Israeli government responsible. Palestinian MK and leader of the Ta‘al party Ahmad Tibi compared the settler raid to Kristallnacht. MK for the Otzma Yehudit Party Zvika Fogel expressed support for the settler raid, saying it was a useful deterrence against attacks on Israeli settlers. Opposition leader Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid responded by saying “MK Fogel must go to jail for inciting terror.” Israel’s chief of the central command Yehuda Fuchs called the settler attacks a pogrom. U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that the U.S. condemns “today’s violence in the West Bank, including the terrorist attack that killed two Israelis and settler violence, which resulted in the killing of one Palestinian, injuries to over 100 others, and the destruction of extensive property.” Price later said that the U.S. expects Israel to hold the perpetrators accountable and compensate lost homes and property. The UK ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan said that “Israel should tackle settler violence, with those responsible brought to justice.” (HA, WAFA 2/26; AJ, ALM, AX, HA, HA, HA, MEE, TOI, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 2/27; HA, HA, MEE, MEE, WAFA 2/28; REU 3/1)

The Knesset’s ministerial committee for legislation approved a bill that will legalize the death penalty for Palestinians charged with terrorism against Israelis. (HA, JP, TOI, WAFA, WAFA 2/26)

Officials from the PA, Israel, the U.S., Egypt, and Jordan attended a summit in Aqaba, Jordan, to discuss the deterioration of security in the West Bank. A joint communique stated that Israel and the PA “confirmed their joint readiness . . .  to end unilateral measures for a period of 3-6 months. This includes an Israeli commitment to stop discussions of any new settlement units for 4 months and to stop authorization of any outposts for 6 months.” The parties agreed to meet again in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt next month. Israel’s national security advisor Tzachi Hanegbi said Israel would not roll back the decision to legalize nine settlement outposts and to advance 9,500 settlement housing units. The new head of the Israeli Civil Administration, finance minister Bezalel Smotrich, said on Twitter “there will be no settlement freeze. Not even for one day,” and that the Israeli military would continue to conduct raids in all areas of the West Bank. Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu also later said that “[t]here will not be any freeze.” Hamas condemned the PA for partaking in the summit. (MEE 2/25; AJ, AJ, ALM, BBC, DOS, F24, HA, HA, HA, MEE, NYT, REU, REU, REU, TOI, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 2/26; AJ, HA, MEE, MEMO, MEMO, REU 2/27; MEE 2/28; HA 3/1)