Following the Israeli authorities’ release last night of six Israeli settlers suspected of involvement in Sunday’s attacks against Palestinians in Nablus Governorate, Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:
“Under Israel’s apartheid system, impunity reigns. Despite the intensity and scale of Sunday’s attacks, which resulted in the killing of one Palestinian and the wounding of nearly 400 more, and despite a rare show of international condemnation of settler violence, Israeli police yesterday released six suspects who were arrested in connection with the attacks. Meanwhile two others have been issued with administrative detention orders, which violate international law. Israeli authorities have long enabled and incited settler attacks against Palestinians, and in some cases soldiers have directly participated.
“State-backed settler violence is endemic in the occupied West Bank. Towns and villages like Huwara, which was the epicentre of Sunday’s attacks, are frequently targeted as they are surrounded by illegal settlements. For example, in October 2022, settlers broke into a school in Huwara where they smashed windows and beat teachers and pupils; less than two weeks later a café was set on fire and groups of settlers assaulted Palestinian residents with pipes and rocks. Amnesty International reiterates its call on Israeli authorities to remove all settlements, which are war crimes under international law, and to dismantle its system of apartheid against Palestinians. Apartheid is a crime against humanity and violence against civilians will continue for as long as it is in place.”
On the night of Sunday 26 February, hundreds of state-backed Israeli settlers carried out a spree of attacks against Palestinians in Nablus Governorate in the occupied West Bank, including in the town of Huwara and in nearby villages Burin, Assira al-Qibliya, Beit Furik, Za’tara, and Beita. Settlers torched dozens of Palestinian cars, homes and orchards and physically assaulted Palestinians, including with metal bars and rocks. Earlier that day, two Israeli settlers - both civilians - had been unlawfully killed in a shooting attack near Huwara.
Research by the Israeli organization Yesh Din found that 93% of all investigations into settler attacks against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank were closed without an indictment in the period between 2005 and 2022. Yesh Din also found that more than 80% of Palestinians' complaints to Israeli police were not investigated at all.
On Wednesday, in a stark example of the link between state and settler violence, Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said that Huwara should be “wiped off the earth” by the Israeli state.
The UN recorded 621 attacks against Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank in 2022.