Jerusalem, Jun 26 (EFE).- Five Israeli settlers who were allegedly involved in violent attacks in the West Bank over the weekend have been charged and appeared in a Jerusalem court on Monday.
In a fifth day of consecutive violence in Palestinian towns in the area, dozens of settlers attacked the village of Umm Safa on Saturday, scorching vehicles and houses and opening fire on Palestinian civilians.
The attacks came after a shooting last Tuesday on a gas station near the Eli settlement by militants with ties to Palestinian Islamist group Hamas killed four settlers.
Of the five suspects brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Monday, three were adults and two were minors, Israeli police said.
According to Israel Defense Forces, one of the suspects was an off-duty soldier who was arrested by the police after the riots and handed over to Shin Bet, Israel’s security agency.
A further four settlers were arrested over their alleged involvement in attacks on the Palestinian towns of Huwara, Turmus Ayya and Urif last week. They have also been questioned by Shin Bet and are in preventive detention.
The wave of violence in the West Bank last week left 17 Palestinians and four Israeli settlers dead.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and the chiefs of various security forces have all condemned the settler violence amid a spike in the number of attacks on Palestinian towns in recent days.
“These attacks are against every moral and Jewish value and are also nationalist terrorism in every sense, and we are obliged to fight them,” IDF chief of staff Herzl Halevi, Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar and Police chief Kobi Shabtai said in a joint statement on Saturday.
But the far-right and ultra-orthodox government’s coalition partners — who support the construction and extension of settlements in the West Bank — have criticized the messages of condemnation.
Far-right minister, Orit Strock, on Monday criticized the references to “nationalist terrorism” in a statement and compared the heads of the Israeli security forces with the Wagner group.
“They issued a message about Jewish nationalist terrorism. Who do you think you are? The Wagner Group?” she asked, referring to the Russian paramilitary army.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Strock’s comments and defended the work of security forces “who lead our fight against terrorism and for the security of Israel.”
Netanyahu has failed to condemn the settler violence, beyond calling for order to be respected in settlements.
This year has been the deadliest in the Palestine-Israel conflict since the Second Intifada, a five-year uprising which ended in 2005.
So far 142 Palestinians have been killed in violent incidents in the West Bank, including 23 children, most of them in armed clashes with Israeli troops, which have intensified their raids in the area especially in the northern West Bank around Nablus and Jenin.
New Palestinian armed groups have emerged and the number of attacks against Israel has also surged.
On the Israeli side, 25 people have died, most of them settlers and five of them minors. EFE