JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli settlers and Palestinians clashed in a flashpoint town in the occupied West Bank that was torched by settlers last week. A Palestinian man was lightly injured in the incident, medics said.
The incident on Monday night was the latest in a long string of violence over the past year, which has seen some of the worst Israeli-Palestinian fighting in recent years.
On Feb. 26, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli brothers in the town of Hawara in northern West Bank, and in response, a mob of Israeli settlers set buildings and cars on fire.
The Israeli military said there were “several violent confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli civilians” in Hawara on Monday night, and that soldiers dispersed the crowds.
Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors Israeli settlements in the northern West Bank, said several Israeli settlers attacked a supermarket. Paramedics said that one man was treated for a head injury.
Security camera footage from near the shop appeared to show Israeli settlers throwing rocks at it, and Palestinians hurling stones back. Outside, Israeli men dressed in black are seen hurling stones and pounding the windows of a car with occupants inside.
Initially, Palestinian officials said, a group of settlers came to the main Hawara thoroughfare in a van, blasting music in what they described as a “provocation.” Monday evening marked the Jewish holiday of Purim, which is typically celebrated with costumes and revelry.
Amateur video footage appeared to show Israeli settlers dancing with soldiers on the main Hawara road, alongside a van with the words “Happy Purim” emblazoned on the side. The army said the soldiers’ conduct was “not aligned with the behavior expected” and that the incident was under review.
Local Palestinian residents protested nearby, shouting “God is great,” in Arabic. Israeli media said Palestinians also threw rocks at Israeli cars passing through Hawara, damaging four vehicles.
More than 60 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire this year, about half of them militants, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Palestinian attacks against Israelis have killed 14 Israelis during that same time. It has been one of the deadliest periods between Israelis and Palestinians in years.
Israel captured the West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, in the 1967 Mideast war, territories the Palestinians seek for their future state. In the decades since, more than 500,000 Jewish settlers have moved into dozens of settlements, which the international community considers illegal and an obstacle to peace.