Israeli soldiers injured by extremist Jewish  settlers in West Bank clash

Israeli soldiers search a Palestinian taxi at a checkpoint near Nablus (AP)

The National  /  October 20, 2022

Army says a suspect was arrested after two soldiers were injured.

Far-right Jewish settlers pepper sprayed Israeli soldiers at an army checkpoint after starting a riot in a Palestinian community in the occupied West Bank. Two soldiers were injured, including an officer, the Israeli military said.

The soldiers were stationed near the Palestinian town of Huwara, a scene of ongoing tension because of encroaching Israeli settlements, whose residents are accused of intimating local Palestinians.

Settlers were accused of throwing stones at Palestinian cars last week and carried out similar attacks on Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear why the settlers then attacked the Israeli army, who were manning checkpoints near the area. Israeli army Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi on Wednesday condemned the violence.

Some far-right settlers accuse the government of holding back what they see as their right to live in the West Bank, which is home to the Palestinian Authority and is seen as a future Palestinian state by most countries around the world.

A 2016 UN resolution was unanimous in calling for an immediate end to Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank.

“This is a very serious incident that embodies shameful and disgraceful criminal behaviour that demands strict and swift justice,” Lt Gen Kohavi said. In a tweet, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid called the settlers “dangerous criminals”.

The Israeli army said on Thursday that one of the men responsible for the attack had been arrested near Nablus, also in the West Bank. A military statement said the attack was unacceptable because the settlers benefit from protection by the army.

More than 120 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the West Bank and East Jerusalem this year, making 2022 the deadliest year since 2015.

Mohammed Fadi Nuri, 16, was shot in the stomach last month by Israeli troops near the city of Ramallah and died on Thursday. The general strike called for Thursday was to affect all sectors except for vital services such as hospitals and bakeries.

The fighting has surged since a series of Palestinian attacks in the spring killed 19 people in Israel and more in recent violence. The Israeli military says most of the Palestinians killed were militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting against the incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 war, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, territories the Palestinians seek for their future state.

About 500,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank in about 130 settlements.