The Israeli army admitted Friday that it “failed” to prevent a Jewish settler raid on a Palestinian hamlet in the occupied West Bank, during which one villager was killed.
Revenge attacks on Turmus Ayya and other towns came after Palestinian gunmen killed four Israelis on Tuesday, which the militant group Hamas claimed was in reprisal to an Israeli army operation on the Jenin refugee camp the day before, which killed six Palestinians.
According to army spokesman Daniel Hagari, troops attempted to prevent Israelis from attacking Turmus Ayya but were stretched too thin.
“We didn’t have, in the first wave, enough forces in the area they chose,” he told journalists on Friday.
“We failed this time,” Hagari added.
locals of Turmus Ayya told AFP that between 200 and 300 Israelis rampaged through their town on Wednesday, assaulting locals and destroying dozens of houses and automobiles.
On Friday, a group of more than 20 foreign missions, including those from the European Union and the United States, visited the community to assess the damage.
Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorff, the EU’s highest ambassador to the Palestinians, chastised Israel for failing to satisfy its commitments to protect Palestinians.
“There was no attempt or effort to stop the settlers,” he said.
Israeli police said on Friday they had arrested three people in connection with the violence, without giving details.
Turmus Ayya is home to a significant number of Palestinian-Americans and residents voiced their anger at the lack of action from Washington.
“We are helpless,” Yaser al-Kam, 33, told AFP.
“I’m speaking on behalf of this peaceful town where 80 per cent to 90 per cent of residents are US citizens. We hold passports, does this passport matter?” Al-Kam asked.
The 25-year-old Palestinian killed Wednesday, Omar Jabara, was a US Green Card holder, a US official told AFP.
The United Nations human rights chief, Volker Turk, warned “the violence, along with the inflammatory rhetoric, serve only to drive Israelis and Palestinians deeper into an abyss.”
Israel’s extreme-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, insisted what was needed in the West Bank was a large-scale “military operation”.
“Terrorists eliminated, not one or two, but tens and hundreds, and if necessary even thousands,” said Ben-Gvir, himself a settler.