Israeli-American shot dead after settler rampage in West Bank

Shweta Sharma

The Independent  /  February 28, 2023

Earlier drive-by in Huwara on Sunday leads to killings of two Israeli brothers and sparks rampage.

A 27-year-old Israeli-American was shot dead in the occupied West Bank as unprecedented retaliatory violence intensified in the aftermath of the deadliest Israeli raid in the area since 2005 that led to the deaths of 11 Palestinians last week.

The man was in his car when he was killed in a drive-by shooting by Palestinians on a highway near the city of Jericho/Ariha on Monday, Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said.

The IDF, in a statement late on Tuesday, said the gunmen had opened fire towards a vehicle with an Israeli number plate on three occasions and set their own vehicles on fire.

Israeli police forces arrived and the gunmen fled after an exchange of fire, according to the IDF.

US ambassador to Israel Tom Nides confirmed the American citizen’s death without revealing his identity.

“Sadly, I can confirm that a US citizen was killed in one of the terror attacks in the West Bank tonight. I pray for his family,” he said in a tweet.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility by any Palestinian groups.

The drive-by comes a day after two Jewish settlers were shot and killed on Sunday in Huwara, south of Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, leading to revenge violence by Jewish settlers against Palestinians.

The two, identified as Hillel Menachem Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaakov Yaniv, 19, were killed in a drive-by as well and were brothers.

Hundreds of Jewish settlers subsequently went on a violent rampage, torching several cars and homes and damaging shops and businesses along the main thoroughfare in Hawara used by both Palestinians and Jewish settlers.

Palestinian media said about 30 homes were torched and more than 100 cars were burned during Sunday evening’s rampage.

A 37-year-old man, identified as Sameh Aqtash, was shot and killed by Israeli fire, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

Two others were shot and wounded, while a third person was stabbed and a fourth was beaten with an iron bar, the Palestinian Red Crescent medical service said. More than 100 people were being treated for injuries and teargas inhalation.

Violence has continued to spiral out of control despite efforts by foreign mediators to tamp down tensions ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish Passover festival.

The escalating tensions between the two groups have put Israel’s far-right prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in a tight spot as he maintains a balancing act between the US advocating for a two-state solution and his own cabinet of hardline settlers.

The Sunday rampage happened as a US-brokered summit had concluded at the Red Sea resort of Aqaba in Jordan. Israeli and Palestinian officials have pledged to de-escalate tensions.

Mr Netanyahu appealed for calm and peace, urging settlers to allow the Israeli military to conduct search operations to find the attackers.

“I ask that when blood is boiling and the spirit is hot, don’t take the law into your hands,” he said in a video statement.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas blamed the Israeli government for “the terrorist acts carried out by Jewish settlers, under the protection of the Israeli occupation forces”.

Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said: “The crimes conducted by the occupation and the herds of settlers will not be met but with stabbing, shooting and car ramming.”

Four extra army battalions and two border police companies have been posted to the West Bank as reinforcements since Sunday, the Israeli military said.

Israeli police have arrested two people for the rampage and continues to search for the attackers. Mr Netanyahu said security forces were closing in on the gunmen who killed the Israeli brothers.

It comes days after 11 Palestinians were killed in a rare daytime raid by Israeli forces on the West Bank city of Nablus. Members of a terrorist group were targets of the raid, in which some civilians were killed and scores were injured in the deadliest operation in the West Bank since 2005.

So far this year, 63 Palestinians, including gunmen and civilians, have been killed by Israeli forces, according to Palestinian officials. Palestinian attacks have killed 13 Israelis, one of them a policeman and a Ukrainian tourist, Israel said.


Israeli-American motorist killed in West Bank after Jewish settlers rampage against Palestinians

Ammar Awad

Reuters  /  February 28, 2023

HAWARA, West Bank – Suspected Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli-American motorist in the occupied West Bank on Monday after Jewish settlers rampaged through a Palestinian village in a burst of violence that defied U.S. efforts to prod the sides to cooperate on security.

Israeli officials said in the latest incident Palestinians carried out several drive-by shootings on a highway near Jericho, killing an Israeli in his car before fleeing. The U.S. State Department said the person killed was also a U.S. citizen.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility by any Palestinian groups. The State Department did not identify the person killed.

Israel reinforced its West Bank garrisons after two brothers from a Jewish settlement were shot dead on Sunday, triggering the rampage by settlers in which a Palestinian was killed, scores were hurt and dozens of cars and homes were torched.

With the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and Jewish Passover festival weeks away, foreign mediators have sought to tamp down tensions that surged after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regained power at the head of a hard-right coalition.

The events cast doubt on Netanyahu’s ability to walk a diplomatic tightrope between Washington – pushing for a lasting compromise – and his own cabinet that includes hard-line settlers demanding tough action against Palestinian attacks.

At a regular briefing for reporters, State Department spokesperson Ned Price condemned attacks by both sides and welcomed statements by Netanyahu calling for a cessation to what Price described as “vigilante violence” by settlers.

“We expect the Israeli government to ensure full accountability and legal prosecution of those responsible for these attacks, in addition to compensation for the lost homes and property,” Price said.

On Sunday, Jordan, with U.S. envoys, hosted a rare meeting where Israeli and Palestinian officials pledged a slowdown in Jewish settlement announcements by the Netanyahu government and reaffirmed past peace accords.

Diplomacy stalled in 2014. Israel now rules out West Bank handovers to the Palestinians, who are themselves divided between the internationally-backed administration of President Mahmoud Abbas and Islamists opposed to peacemaking.

The Islamist militant Hamas said through its spokesman, Abdel-Latif al-Qanoua, that Monday’s attack was a natural response to Israeli attacks.

“The crimes conducted by the occupation and the herds of settlers will not be met but with stabbing, shooting and car ramming,” Qanoua said in a statement.


“We expect difficult days ahead of us,” Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant told reporters as he toured the largely empty streets of the village of Hawara, site of Sunday’s violence, under a heavy security detail.

Abbas blamed the Israeli government for the Hawara rampage.

Lamar Abusarees, a 10-year-old Palestinian girl, said her house was among those set alight by settlers: “My mother moved us to a corner because there was no safe place, they broke all the windows while we were inside.”

Israeli police said they had arrested two people for the rampage. In parliament, Netanyahu said security forces were closing in on the gunman who had killed the Israeli brothers.

Four extra army battalions and two border police companies were posted to the West Bank since Sunday as reinforcements, the Israeli military said.

“I call on everyone to restore calm,” Gallant said. “We cannot allow a situation in which citizens take the law into their hands.”

Sixty-three Palestinians, including gunmen and civilians, have been killed by Israeli forces in 2023, Palestinian officials say. Palestinian attacks have killed 13 Israelis, one of them a policeman, and a Ukrainian tourist, Israel says.

Reporting by Rami Amichay, Ali Sawafta, Ammar Awad, Ari Rabinovitch, Nidal al-Mughrabi and Rami Ayyub; editing by Mark Heinrich, Hugh Lawson and Howard Goller