The day after hundreds of settlers set fire to homes, businesses, and automobiles during a riot in the Palestinian town of Huwara in the West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “not tolerate a reality where all do as they like” and purposefully hurt innocent people.
Although condemning the riot, some politicians in Netanyahu’s alliance expressed sympathy for the rioting settlers.
Nevertheless, earlier on Monday, Tali Gottlieb, a politician from Netanyahu’s own Likud party, took the podium and struck a different tone.
Do you not denounce what occurred in Huwara? They questioned me.
I told them, ‘Not today,'” Gottlieb proclaimed as Netanyahu watched from the Knesset floor in Israel. “Thursday, but not today.”
Gottlieb cited her attention to the two Israeli victims of a shooting incident earlier on Sunday, when a shooter from Huwara killed two brothers while traveling on a road that runs through the town, as the reason for her delay in denouncing the settler violence.
In retaliation for the assault, settlers rioted in Huwara. Amid the unrest, one Palestinian was killed, and numerous others were hurt in a town south of Huwara.
Later in her address, Gottlieb said, “Therefore today, I won’t condemn.” “I’m just giving the Israeli people a message of unity today,” he said.
Gottlieb was not the only Knesset member to refrain from denouncing the incident. While many of Netanyahu’s fellow parliamentarians have denounced the rampage and said it does not reflect Israel’s values, some of his coalition partners have shown sympathy for the rioters or even supported their behavior.
Bezalel Smotrich, the finance minister recently appointed to oversee settlers’ civil affairs, showed some sympathy for the riot while denouncing vigilantism.
The Israeli government, comprised of far-right parties, struggles to control a rising tide of violence in the West Bank and Israel when a small but considerable amount of sympathy for the rioters emerges.
More than a dozen Israelis have been killed in terrorist acts, the majority of whom were civilians, while Israeli strikes have slain scores of Palestinian militants and several civilians.
But, the reaction to their actions reveals that they have support from a few current government members and its allies, even if Sunday’s violence suggests that some settlers feel empowered to settle scores independently.
According to the Times of Israel, Zvika Fogel, a politician from the extreme right Otzma Yehudit party and a part of Netanyahu’s coalition, said, “A shuttered, burnt Huwara – that’s what I want to see.”
“Deterrence can only be achieved in that way. We need burning communities after a murder like the one from yesterday when the IDF doesn’t intervene.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, the National Security Minister and chair of Fogel’s party gave a speech from the site of an illegal West Bank settlement outpost in which he demanded that Israel’s military “stop the strategy of containment” and declared that “the enemy needs to be chopped down.”
He added that I recognized the distressing emotions, but this was not the way. “We don’t try to impose our laws. The security forces, the Israeli state, and the Israeli government are the ones who must defeat our adversaries.
The spokesperson for Ben-Gvir, pro-settler activist Yishai Fleischer, expressed sympathy for the rioters while denouncing their behavior.
He tweeted, “Vigilante behavior is typically wrong and unquestionably criminal.” Yet, years of Israel’s neglecting law enforcement and turning a blind eye to the jihadism, illegal weaponry, and no-go areas that have evolved within us have resulted in wanton Arab terrorism, which has sparked a human response.
Nevertheless, screenshots reveal that he approved of a since-deleted tweet from a regional settlement authority in which the official stated that Huwara “has to be wiped out today.”
Later that day, a different Twitter user published a trending series of tweets that compared the riot to Tel Aviv’s weekly nonviolent mass protests against Israel’s proposed judicial reform while denouncing the riot and supporting “collective punishment of the family and surroundings of the terrorist.”
Smotrich shared the tweets with the caption “The complete thread.”