US citizen killed in West Bank as unrest intensifies
Retaliatory violence has escalated in the occupied West Bank, resulting in the shooting and killing of a 26-year-old Israeli American named Elan Ganeles. The attack took place on a highway close to Jericho, following an incident where Israeli settlers burned dozens of cars and houses in Palestinian villages in the West Bank on Sunday night. This was in response to the killing of two settlers from a neighbouring village by a Palestinian on Sunday.
In response to the attack, US Ambassador Tom Nides expressed condolences on Twitter, saying “Sadly, I can confirm that a US citizen was killed in one of the terror attacks in the West Bank tonight. I pray for his family.”
According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), attackers fired on Israeli vehicles three times and later set their own vehicles on fire. The IDF tweeted that there was an exchange of fire with police before the attackers fled.
No Palestinian groups immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip but has a lesser presence in the West Bank, stated that the attack was a natural response to Israeli attacks. “The crimes conducted by the occupation and the herds of settlers will not be met but with stabbing, shooting and car ramming,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
Following a summit in Jordan where Israeli and Palestinian officials pledged to ease tensions, violence erupted in the West Bank.
On Sunday, a large group of Israeli settlers entered the village of Hawara, lighting fires and throwing stones. Palestinian Sameh Aqtash was shot in the stomach and killed during an attack by settlers in Zaatara.
The violence continued with Palestinian militants attacking Israeli vehicles, resulting in the death of Elan Ganeles. Although no Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the attack, Hamas said it was a response to Israeli attacks.
Netanyahu urges calm after violence
The West Bank is under full Israeli control, and Palestinians criticised Israeli security forces for failing to protect them. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held the Israeli government accountable for the “terrorist acts carried out by Israeli settlers, under the protection of the Israeli occupation forces.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged settlers to remain calm and allow Israeli military and security forces to find the shooter responsible for killing the two Israelis.
The settlers had organised a march to Hawara with the intention of retaliating for the fatal attack on Hillel and Yagel Yaniv, who lived in the Har Bracha settlement, located 1.2 miles south of Nablus.
The two brothers were driving through Hawara when a Palestinian man hit their car and then shot them multiple times. While no Palestinian militant group has claimed responsibility, reports indicate that the shooter was wearing a shirt with the insignia of the Nablus-based Lions’ Den.
Last Wednesday, Israeli forces raided Nablus, targeting members of the group, resulting in the deadliest operation in the West Bank since 2005, killing 11 Palestinians, including several civilians.
In an attempt to stop the ongoing deadly attacks against Israelis by Palestinians, Israeli forces have been carrying out multiple search, arrest, and intelligence-gathering operations in Nablus and the nearby city of Jenin.
Violence in 2023
Since the beginning of the year, over 60 Palestinians, including militants and civilians, have been killed by Israeli forces, while 14 Israelis have been killed in attacks, all civilians, except for a paramilitary police officer.
Over 600,000 Jews reside in 140 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war. The majority of the international community considers these settlements illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.
What is the Israeli-Palestine conflict?
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a long-standing dispute between Israelis and Palestinians over territory in the Middle East. It dates back to the early 20th century when Jews began migrating to Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire, with the aim of creating a Jewish homeland.
After World War I, the League of Nations granted Britain a mandate to govern Palestine, but Jewish and Arab aspirations for self-determination collided. After the 1947 partition plan proposed by the United Nations, the State of Israel was established in 1948, and the first Arab-Israeli war ensued.
This conflict has resulted in several wars, as well as numerous violent incidents and negotiations over the years. The main points of contention include borders, the status of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Palestinian refugees, and the recognition of Israel as a state. The conflict remains unresolved, and tensions persist between Israelis and Palestinians.