Jewish settlers celebrate Purim with more attacks on Palestinians

Ali Abunimah

The Electronic Intifada  /  March 7, 2023

Four Palestinians, including a girl, were taken to hospital Monday after Jewish settlers attacked them with stones in the occupied West Bank village of Huwwara.

That’s the same village where settlers, backed by Israeli soldiers, rampaged late last month, burning cars, homes and businesses.

One person, 37-year-old Sameh Aqtash – who had just returned from Turkey where he was volunteering to help earthquake victims – was killed during that pogrom.

Following that attack, Israeli Finance minister Bezalel Smotrich issued the  genocidal call for Huwwara to be “wiped out.”

On Thursday, I joined Rania Khalek and Eugene Puryear on BreakThrough News to talk about the attack on Huwwara and the broader context of Israel’s escalating extremism and violence, especially its increasingly frequent lethal raids into Palestinian cities and refugee camps.

You can watch the entire interview in the video at the top of this article.

Despite international condemnation of the earlier attack on Huwwara, Israel is doing nothing to restrain the settlers.

“The pogroms in Huwwara continue also as part of the settlers’ Purim celebrations, backed by the government and lack of enforcement by the authorities,” Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group, said.

On Monday, settlers were seen dancing and singing in the streets of the village, part of their celebration of the Jewish festival of Purim – a display one journalist called a “show of Jewish supremacy.”

Purim is often celebrated by dressing up in costumes, but for the Israeli state’s settler vanguard it has long been an occasion to parade their racism and violence.

One enthusiastic participant in that ugly tradition has been Itamar Ben-Gvir, now Israel’s national security minister.

As a young adult in 1995, Ben-Gvir dressed up as Baruch Goldstein, the American Jewish settler and medical doctor who a year earlier massacred 29 Palestinians performing Ramadan prayers at Hebron’s Al-Ibrahimi Mosque.

Although his violent hatred of Palestinians is undimmed, nowadays Ben-Gvir plays the statesman, marking Purim with a solemn religious service alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But in Palestinian towns, the settlers continue to run wild, with the full support of the Israeli army.

“Using Purim as an excuse for violence is practically tradition” in the occupied West Bank, Breaking the Silence, an Israeli anti-occupation group observed.

“Last night in Huwwara, settlers and soldiers danced together to Purim music while other settlers attacked Palestinians,” Breaking the Silence added.

Unfortunately, the rest of the year, the Israeli army and settlers don’t bother with excuses for their relentless violence against Palestinians.

Ali Abunimah is executive director of The Electronic Intifada