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Settlers riot, attack Palestinians after West Bank shooting

Oct. 2, 2015 10:58 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 2, 2015 9:22 P.M.)
(AFP/File)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of Israeli settlers rioted across the occupied West Bank late Thursday, with multiple attacks reported on Palestinian homes and vehicles in the aftermath of an earlier shooting which killed two settlers near Nablus.

In the Palestinian village of Beitillu, near Ramallah, assailants torched a car and spray-painted "Revenge Henkin" on a nearby wall, the army said on Friday, noting that nobody was hurt.

Eitam and Naama Henkin, both in their 30s, were killed while driving on Thursday night between the illegal settlements of Itamar and Elon More.

Their four children, aged between four months and nine years, were found unharmed in the back of the car.

Shortly after the shooting, over 200 settlers attempted to raid the town of Huwwara south of Nablus under the protection of Israeli soldiers while Palestinians used speakers from a mosque to mobilize villagers to resist the incursion.

A large number of Israeli forces raided Beit Furik village and searched the surrounding countryside, while settlers raided Burin and smashed Palestinian vehicles near the Huwwara checkpoint and on a nearby main road.

Over 15 Palestinian vehicles were damaged by settlers, including an ambulance, the director of the emergency department in Nablus said.

The ambulance was en-route to aid Palestinians suffering from tear-gas inhalation in Burin when settlers attacked it, damaging the windshield.

Bashir Jibril Qadus and three of his family members were treated at hospital for tear-gas inhalation after Israeli forces fired stun grenades and tear gas canisters in the village.

Another unidentified Palestinian was injured and treated at hospital after settlers smashed his vehicle in the area.

The ambulance department in Nablus also received a call that a Palestinian Authority security officer was assaulted by Israeli forces at the Zatara checkpoint.

The Nablus area was on virtual lock-down overnight following the killing of two Israeli settlers, a married couple, between the illegal Israeli settlements of Itamar and Elon Moreh.

Palestinian security sources said the Huwwara and Beit Furik checkpoints were closed by the Israeli army, while settlers closed down several main roads east of Nablus.

In Tulkarem, around 60 Palestinian families were prevented from leaving a park near the Shavei Shomron settlement as settlers blockaded a main road leading to the area, a Palestinian liaison official said.

Liaison official Muhammad Yassin said officers intervened and provided safe passage for the families to leave the area.

Settlers from Beit El attacked Palestinian vehicles near Ramallah as Israeli forces looked on, witnesses said, after a settler march set off from the illegal settlement to a main road in the area.

There were also reports of settler attacks in the village of Sinjil north of Ramallah as settlers closed a main north-south highway, and attacks in Hebron and Bethlehem.

Israel deployed hundreds of troops in the occupied West Bank on Friday in a hunt for suspected Palestinian gunmen.

Hamas hailed those behind Thursday's deadly attack, while not taking responsibility for it. "This operation was in response to the crimes of the Zionists," it said in a statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the killings, which he called "the effects of Palestinian incitement," vowing security services would work to "capture the murderers and improve security for all Israeli citizens."

The Nablus district experiences a large proportion of settler violence in the occupied West Bank due to the close proximity of illegal settlements and Palestinian villages.

The already contentious relationship between Palestinians and Israeli settlers has been particularly strained in Nablus in recent months, as Israeli settlers set fire to a house on July 30 in Duma, a small village within the district, burning a toddler alive, and killing the mother and father of the family.
The only remaining survivor of the attack is the family's 4-year-old son, Ahmad Dawabsha.
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