Huwwara: Jewish settlers release song celebrating the burning of Palestinian town

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  March 8, 2023

Shared widely among Jewish settlers, the song calls for the Palestinian town to be wiped out.

Jewish settlers have been sharing on their WhatsApp groups a song celebrating the burning of the Palestinian town of Huwwara and its anticipated erasure. 

The song was initially shared on the WhatsApp groups of the Hilltop Youth, an extremist religious-nationalist settler group active in attacks against Palestinians and the establishing of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Overlaid with the melody of Hanania by popular religious Zionist singer Hanan Ben-Ari, the song starts with “What is burning down … Huwwara/Houses and cars … Huwwara/ Evicting from [Huwwara] old women, the young and girls too.”

Huwwara, a Palestinian town in the West Bank, was at the centre of an unprecedented settler rampage on 26 February.

At least one Palestinian was killed and nearly 400 wounded in the attacks on Huwwara and other West Bank towns and villages, Palestinian health officials said.

The song also includes lyrics such as “They burn their trucks, roads and cars, ambulances and fire engines, you will no longer recognize Huwwara.”

Commenting on Hilltop Youth’s rendition of his song, Ben-Ari, called it an “unfunny and inappropriate joke“.

While there is no indication that Ben-Ari condoned the use of his song, his music, which reflects his religious worldview, resonates with some settlers. 

Raised in Karnei Shomron in the occupied West Bank, Ben-Ari is the nephew of Michael Ben-Ari, who co-founded the political party Jewish Power, now led by far-right Israeli minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

‘Wipe out Huwwara’

On Monday evening, settlers once again stormed Huwwara, hurling stones at Palestinians, their cars and properties. Palestine’s Red Crescent said that 31 people, including six children, were wounded, and five of them were rushed to the emergency department of Ibn Sina Hospital.

On social media, settlers threatened to “destroy” the town, much of which has been set ablaze

Israeli soldiers were also present when settlers rampaged through Huwwara and the Palestinian village of Zatara, and during the fatal shooting of a Palestinian man on the night of 26 February.

Sameh al-Aqtash, a 37-year-old Palestinian resident of Zatara, was shot when around 40 to 50 settlers attacked his village. Video footage taken by Palestinians shows at least two Israeli army jeeps and a police car at the scene, not intervening to stop the rampage.

Jewish settlers are not the first to call for Huwwara to be demolished.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who is also responsible for Israel’s civil administration in the occupied West Bank, on Wednesday said Israel should “wipe out” the village in the wake of the attack. 

“The state needs to do it and not private citizens,” he said.

The US condemned the comments as  “repugnant, irresponsible and disgusting“, with US State Department spokesman Ned Price calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials to “publicly and clearly” disavow the minister’s comments.

Smotrich, who is due in the US at an investment conference in Washington DC next week, later claimed his remarks were “a slip of the tongue”.