The US has sharply criticized Israel's call for the "wiping out" of the small Palestinian town of Huwara in the West Bank. "These comments were irresponsible. They were vile, they were disgusting," US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in Washington on Wednesday (local time).
Just as the US condemned Palestinian incitement to violence, "we also condemn these provocative statements, which also amount to incitement to violence," he added.
Netanyahu should distance himself
"We call on Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu and other senior Israeli leaders to publicly and unequivocally deny and distance themselves from these statements," Price said. It is now more important than ever that Israelis and Palestinians work together again to de-escalate these tensions and restore the calm that both Israelis and Palestinians deserve.
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who is also responsible for settlement expansion in the West Bank, said earlier at a conference of the business newspaper TheMarker: "I think the village of Huwara has to be wiped out. I think the State of Israel has to do it - um God willing no private individuals." A deputy from the far-right coalition party Ozma Jehudit expressly welcomed the riots in Huwara.
Burning buildings and cars
On Sunday, a suspected Palestinian assassin shot dead two Israeli brothers in the town south of Nablus. After that, Israeli settlers rioted near the scene of the crime, injuring hundreds of Palestinians. Dozens of houses, shops and cars were also set on fire.
According to estimates by the Central Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, around 7,400 Palestinians live in Huwara. A central connecting road runs through the small town, which is also used daily by many Israeli settlers in the northern West Bank.
Since the beginning of the year, 13 Israelis and one Ukrainian have been killed in Palestinian attacks. In the same period, 63 Palestinians lost their lives - they were killed, for example, in confrontations with the Israeli army or in their own attacks.
Israel conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. More than 600,000 Israeli settlers live there today. The Palestinians claim the territories for their own state.