Israel & Iran national flags and flames

Bezalel Smotrich, the Israeli finance minister, told a business conference on Wednesday that he believes the Palestinian village of Hawara “needs to be wiped out” and he thinks “the State of Israel should do it.”

His comment came after Israeli forces attacked Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank on Sunday night seeking revenge for the two Israelis who were shot dead by a Palestinian gunman the night before. Homes and buildings were destroyed and about 400 settlers were injured.

Smotrich, who also serves as a minister in the Defense Ministry in charge of civilian affairs in the West Bank, liked a tweet that called for Israel to show no mercy and that the “village of Huwwara should be erased today.”

Israeli security forces are supposed to protect the village, but these settlers were not stopped. Yehuda Fuchs, a commander of the Israeli military in the area, told the Financial Times that the army should have prevented the rampage that he described as a “pogrom.”

His remark drew swift domestic and international backlash. Yair Lapid, the head of the Yesh Atid, the opposition party, called the comments an “incitement to a war crime.”

“Jews do not commit pogroms and Jews do not wipe out villages,” he said. “This government has gone off the rails.”

Volker Turk, the human rights chief of the United Nations, addressed the Geneva-based body on Friday, saying, “The situation in the occupied Palestinian territory is a tragedy, a tragedy above all for the Palestinian people.”

He said his report found that Israeli troops routinely use lethal force “regardless of the level of threat and at times even as an initial measure rather than as last resort.” He said his agency’s report found that Israel carries out “extrajudicial targeted killings” and, over the past year, 131 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces “in a context of law enforcement that is outside any context of hostilities. This includes 65 people who we understand were not armed nor engaged in any attacks or clashes.”

“The occupation is eating away at the health of both societies on every level, from childhood to old age and in every part of life. For this violence to end, the occupation must end. On all sides, there are people who know this,” his report said.

Smotrich’s comments drew ire from the Palestinian Authority, which said it is a “stab in the heart of the whole idea of the two-state negotiated solution sponsored by the United States.”

Ned Price, the U.S. State Department spokesman, called Smotrich’s comment “irresponsible, repugnant, and disgusting.”

Smotrich said in a statement later that his comments were taken out of context and he only meant to “act in a surgical way against terrorists and their supporters in the village in order to restore the security.” He said the comment was a “slip of the tongue” and that he has been unfairly demonized.

TRENDPOST: The Financial Times called Netanyahu’s government the most “far-right” in Israel’s history and identified Smotrich as a “settler with a history of anti-Arab rhetoric.” “Settler” is code for “land-stealer.”

The government, thus far, has lived up to expectations. The Knesset gave preliminary approval to a law that would treat Palestinians who kill Jewish Israelis differently from Jewish Israelis who kill Palestinians. Under the proposed law, Palestinians who are convicted of killing a Jewish Israeli would face the death penalty.

The Times of Israel reported that the bill has been promoted by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s extremist Otzma Yehudit party.

Netanyahu joined Ben Gvir in a statement after the vote stating that the law means “courts will be able to impose a death penalty on those who committed a nationalistically motivated murder offense against a citizen of Israel.”

The Trends Journal has reported extensively on Israel’s clashes with Palestinians over settlements, i.e. stolen land from Palestinians which is in violation of the Geneva Convention. (See “DOES ISRAEL SEEK A ‘FINAL SOLUTION’ FOR PALESTINIANS?” 28 Feb 2023, “ISRAEL KEEPS KILLING PALESTINIANS” 7 Feb 2023, and “UN RESOLUTION: ISRAEL FACES INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNATION FOR PUNISHING PALESTINIANS” 24 Jan 2023.) 

Smotrich said in January that Israel will strengthen its grip in the West Bank and aims to spend billions on developing infrastructure and take more Palestinian land to build settlements.

Smotrich’s comments drew ire from the Palestinian Authority, which said it is a “stab in the heart of the whole idea of the two-state negotiated solution sponsored by the United States.”

It is worth noting that most of the members of Smotrich’s Zionism party are from Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and are not in charge of what laws are established there, according to The Wall Street Journal. The paper noted that the party’s aim is to “pave the way for a million more Jewish settlers and to gradually eliminate any difference between life in the settlements and within Israel’s internationally recognized borders.”

It was refreshing to see the U.S. speak out against Smotrich’s comment, but it is also worth noting that talk is cheap. Israel has been accused of imposing a system of apartheid and still pulls in nearly $4 billion in U.S. aid each year that is paid for by the taxpayers… the plantation workers of Slavelandia USA.

Hawara Aftermath 

The Israeli “settler” raid on Hawara resulted in one Palestinian dead and another 390 injured, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing Palestinian health officials. (See “MIDDLE EAST MELTDOWN: ISRAELI ‘SETTLERS’ ATTACK PALESTINIAN VILLAGES IN OCCUPIED WEST BANK” 28 Feb 2023.)

Hawara is a small village south of Nablus, the scene of a major Israeli raid last week that resulted in 11 dead Palestinians and about 100 injured. The raid by hundreds of Israelis, some armed with knives and guns, was the response to the fatal shooting of Israeli brothers allegedly at the hands of a Palestinian.

The paper said the most recent escalation was part of an “escalating wave of tit-for-tat violence in the West Bank as a new, right-wing Israeli government moves to expand Israeli settlements and continue a prolonged counterterrorism campaign that began last spring.”

The brother of the man shot dead said the Israeli army shot his brother, not the settlers, a claim Israel denied. The victim was a blacksmith who had just returned after volunteering in Turkey after the earthquake. The brother said the 37-year-old ended up bleeding to death because the IDF would not clear the way for an ambulance.

Zvika Fogel, a member of Itamar Ben-Gvir’s ultra-nationalist Jewish Power party, told an Israeli news station that there should be a “final war” that “subdues them [Palestinians] once and for all.”

“It would be worth it because this will be the final war,” he said. “And after that, we can sit and raise doves and all the other beautiful birds that exist.”

The WSJ reported that since the start of the year, 61 Palestinians and 14 Israelis have been killed in clashes. The paper, citing the UN, noted that there has been an increase of these acts of violence by settlers, which seldom result in arrests.

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