In sharp criticism, the United States invites Israeli settlers suspected of attacking terrorism

In sharp criticism, the United States invites Israeli settlers suspected of attacking terrorism

Written by Dan Williams

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Washington has condemned the killing of a Palestinian by Jewish settlers as terrorism, with blunt language that seemed to reflect US frustration with rising violence in the occupied West Bank under Israel’s far-right government.

The Israeli police arrested two settlers in an accident on Friday near the village of Burqa. According to the Palestinians, they were part of a group that threw rocks and set cars on fire, and when confronted by the villagers, they shot a 19-year-old and wounded several others.

The IDF’s initial findings described the incident as a confrontation that escalated with casualties on both sides. A defense lawyer said that the settlers – one of whom was absent from the court session due to a head injury – acted in self-defense.

In its indictment, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz, the state accused the settlers of “deliberate or careless killing” with racial motives.

“We strongly condemn the terrorist attack by extremist Israeli settlers yesterday that resulted in the death of a 19-year-old Palestinian,” the US State Department said in a statement late on Saturday, calling for “full accountability and justice.”

Amid increasing attacks on their communities by Palestinians armed with guns, stones or petrol bombs, settlers have repeatedly launched attacks in West Bank villages, causing massive property damage. Among their victims were Palestinians with dual US citizenship.

The State Department’s statement on the burqa was issued in conjunction with a statement condemning the Palestinian armed attack that resulted in the killing of a security officer in Tel Aviv as terrorism.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist government was wary of any comparisons between Israeli and Palestinian militancy.

Far-right Police Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said on social media that Palestinian stone throwers in burqas “attempted to kill Jews” and that he expected them to be fully investigated.

The West Bank is among the areas Palestinians seek to establish a state. Negotiations the United States brokered with Israel to that end faltered nearly a decade ago, strengthening hardliners on both sides.

According to Israeli Army Radio, the rate of attacks by settlers or their supporters against Palestinians in the West Bank has doubled this year compared to 2022.

“We are facing a dangerous development of Jewish national terrorism,” opposition lawmaker Benny Gantz, the former defense minister, said on the X messaging platform, formerly known as Twitter.

“Whatever happened in Cyrenaica, it joins a large number of events that our security forces have suffered by having to go after the Israelis instead of protecting them.”

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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