RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Jewish settlers burst into several villages in the occupied West Bank on Friday, smashing homes and cars and beating up at least two people, Palestinian officials said. The attacks came a day after Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli man in a shooting ambush in the territory.
The death of settler Yehuda Dimentman, killed when gunmen opened fire on his car near a West Bank settlement outpost late Thursday, threatened to ignite further violence between Palestinian residents and Israeli settlers. Two other passengers in Dimentman’s vehicle were lightly wounded.
Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activities, said groups of settlers entered several Palestinian villages near the northern city of Nablus early Friday, smashing up cars and homes. Two Palestinians required hospital treatment.
In the Palestinian village of Qaryout, settlers broke into one house and tried to abduct a local resident, Wael Miqbel, according to Daghlas.
Photos later shared on social media showed Miqbel with bruises and swelling across his face, while other videos and photos published online showed confrontations between armed settlers and Palestinian residents.
Israeli leaders have vowed to find the assailants behind Thursday’s shooting and the army deployed additional forces to the area. According to the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, at least three men from the northern village of Burqa were arrested in overnight raids.
The army said Friday the manhunt for the Palestinian gunmen was still ongoing, but gave no further details.
Dimentman’s car came under fire after leaving a Jewish seminary in the outpost of Homesh, a former settlement evacuated as part of Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. In recent years, settlers have re-established an unauthorized outpost at the site, one of dozens of outposts in the West Bank that are considered illegal but often tolerated by the Israeli government.
No group has claimed responsibility for the shooting, although the Hamas militant group, which rules the Gaza Strip, praised the attack.
Hundreds gathered for Dimentman’s funeral services in Homesh on Friday morning, before the body was taken to Jerusalem for burial.
The latest attacks come amid an uptick in Israeli-Palestinian violence across the West Bank and in east Jerusalem. Earlier this month, an ultra-Orthodox Jew was left seriously injured after being stabbed by a Palestinian attacker outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. A week before, a Hamas militant opened fire in the Old City, killing an Israeli man. Both attackers were killed by Israeli forces.
Settler violence against Palestinians has seen a similar uptick during the olive harvest. In mid-November, Jewish settlers attacked a group of Palestinian farmers with pepper spray and clubs in the farmland surrounding Homesh, injuring four people.
Israel captured east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war. The territories are now home to more than 700,000 Jewish settlers, although Palestinians seek both areas as parts of their future independent state. Palestinians, along with most of the international community, consider settlements to be illegal and the major obstacle to peace.