Following the murder of four Israelis this week, Israel’s security service announced on Friday that it had apprehended three Israeli settlers on suspicion of taking part in widespread rampages across Palestinian villages in the West Bank.
The three Israelis were held without being identified or given any other information by Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence service, which simply stated that they were suspected of taking part in “violent incidents.”
In the West Bank, Jewish settlers have set scores of Palestinian houses and vehicles on fire and defaced them over the past three days.
Their violence was reminiscent of a settler massacre that took place in the northern Palestinian village of Hawara in February. Following that incident, some Israeli settlers were apprehended but soon freed without being charged.
Given the scope and severity of the violence, the Israeli rights organization Yesh Din described the arrests as “a drop in the ocean” on Friday.
The organization claimed to have video showing at least 30 Palestinian homes, 60 automobiles, a petrol station, many stores, a mosque, and a school being set on fire this week throughout towns in the northern West Bank.
It admitted that the actual number of destroyed or damaged homes and vehicles is probably greater.
Additionally, wheat fields outside of Ramallah were set on fire, engulfing the northern West Bank’s hillsides in flames. Ziv Stahl, the group’s head, said that the Israeli military’s incompetence or reluctance to stop the settler attacks that rocked the West Bank in retaliation for Wednesday’s shooting attack by Palestinians was “part of an intentional strategy.”
“The army had four mounts after the attack in Hawara to study how to deal with this and stop it,” she said.
“But everything happened in broad daylight. They didn’t detain anyone on the scene.
They allowed the settlers to do whatever they felt like doing.”
Requests for a response to the allegations were not immediately answered by the Israeli military.
The far-right Israeli government, which has sworn to take a strong stance against the Palestinians and build settlements, is being put to the test by the West Bank’s escalating violence.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, the minister of national security, went to Eviatar on Wednesday.
Eviatar is an illegal outpost of a settlement in the northern West Bank that was removed by the previous Israeli administration in 2021.
In front of a group of young, idealistic Jewish settlers, he urged them to “launch a military operation (against Palestinian militants in the West Bank), take down buildings, and eliminate terrorists.”
“Not just one or two,” he remarked. But dozens, hundreds, and thousands if necessary.