Extremist Israeli settlers set up a big tent at a roundabout leading to the village of Kifl Hares, north of the occupied West Bank city of Salfit on Monday.
A large group of settlers are currently inside the tent, under heavy protection of Israeli forces.
Palestinians fear that the tent is the precursor to imminent Israeli settlers’ attacks against them and their property in retaliation for Sunday’s killing of an Israeli soldier and injuring two others in a stabbing and shooting attack north of Salfit city.
A Palestinian killed an Israeli soldier and severely wounded two others in shooting and stabbing attacks before fleeing the scene outside the settlement of Ariel, north of Salfit.
In the wake of the attack, Israeli forces closed the entrances to Kifl Haris, Haris and Deir Istiya villages as part of a large-scale manhunt for the perpetrator.
Such Israeli measures, taken under the guise of security, are intended to entrench Israel’s 51-year-old military occupation of the West Bank and its settler colonial project which it enforces with routine and frequently deadly violence against Palestinians.
Israeli settlers also set up several mobile homes in the southeastern part of the West Bank town of Kafr Qaddum, east of Qalailiya.
The Anti-Wall and Settlement Committee’s Office in the Northern West Bank confirmed that settlers, under heavy military protection, also set up several mobile homes or caravans near Kedumim settlement.
This came as settlers stepped up their attacks against Palestinians in the northern West Bank in retaliation for Sunday’s killing of the two Israelis, including the soldier, and injuring another in the stabbing and shooting attack outside the settlement of Ariel.
On Sunday evening, settlers hurled rocks at Palestinian vehicles travelling along the Nablus-Qalqiliya and Nablus-Tulkarem roads, causing severe damage.
They also attacked a Palestinian house with stones in Huwwara town, south of Nablus, shattering its windows. No injuries were reported though in any of the attacks.
Israel imposes harsh penalties on Palestinian stone throwers, as it passed legislation in 2015 allowing for up to 20 years in prison if charged with throwing stones at Israeli vehicles and a minimum of three years for the act of throwing a stone at an Israeli.
In contrast, Israeli settlers are rarely prosecuted under the same standards of the law.
Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law.
Also on Monday, Israeli forces ransacked the family homes of a senior Fatah member and a lawyer, (both of whom are currently placed under Israeli detention) in the central West Bank city of Ramallah.
Israeli military vehicles raided the Ramallah neighbourhood of al-Tihta, where soldiers stormed the house of Zakaria Zubeidi, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, and interrogated his family for several hours
Soldiers also stormed and violently searched the house of Tarek Barghout, an attorney who works for the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, and interrogated his family members too.
Zubeidi was a leading member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s armed wing, during the second Intifada but was later given amnesty by Israel in a deal reached with the Palestinian Authority.
Zubeidi and Barghout have been imprisoned in Israeli jails since February 27, when they were detained by Israeli forces.
Israeli forces also detained at least seven Palestinians, including another lawyer, in multiple overnight raids across the West Bank on Sunday night, Monday morning, said the Palestine Prisoners Society (PPS).
Israeli military vehicles raided the northern West Bank city of Jenin, where soldiers detained three Palestinians after storming their family homes.
PPS confirmed that Israeli forces detained two Palestinians, including a lawyer, from the northern West Bank district on Nablus.
In the southern West Bank, PPS confirmed that two Palestinians were rounded up from Bethlehem district.
Israeli forces frequently raid Palestinian houses almost on a daily basis across the West Bank on the pretext of searching for ‘wanted’ Palestinians, triggering clashes with residents.
These raids, which also take place in areas under the full control of the Palestinian Authority, are conducted with no need for a search warrant, whenever and wherever the military chooses, in keeping with its sweeping arbitrary powers.
- Palestine’s ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, Izzat Abdulhadi, visited survivors of the mass shootings on two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Monday.
Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister Riyad al-Malki stated that, following the resumption of flights to Christchurch city, Abdulhadi visited three Palestinian survivors still being treated in Christchurch hospitals, in addition to the wife of Osama Adnan Abu Kweik, 37, a Palestinian killed in Friday’s attack on the two New Zealand mosques.
Abdulhadi extended his condolences to Abu Kweik’s wife on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas and visited another Palestinian survivor who has now been discharged from hospital.
The Palestinian diplomat will remain in Christchurch pending the returning of the victims’ bodies to their families and their burial, and will provide the injured with the necessary assistance.
Islamic tradition calls for a person to be buried as soon as possible after death, ideally within 24 hours.
According to al-Malki, the New Zealand authorities are still identifying the victims’ bodies, and therefore refuse to release them until the completion of the identification process and medical checkups.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Sunday that the authorities had started returning identified bodies to families, and all bodies will be returned by today, Wednesday 20th.
New Zealand police described efforts to identify the victims as ‘detailed and complex work’ that must be completed thoroughly.
‘It’s vital we have certainty around cause of death for any future court proceedings,’ Detective Superintendent Peter Read said.
Six Palestinians were killed and six others injured in Friday’s New Zealand mosque attacks that claimed the lives of 50 Muslim worshippers and wounded 50 others, including 12 still in intensive care.