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Israeli settlers injure dozens of Palestinians in occupied West Bank

Israeli settlers have stormed the occupied West Bank town of Huwara, setting fire to several homes and cars and injuring dozens of Palestinians.

More than 350 Palestinians were injured during the overnight attacks on Sunday, the majority suffering from tear gas inhalation, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said on Monday. 

An AFP photographer reported damaged homes blackened by fire, long lines of charred cars, burned trees and smashed windows in the town.

“They burned more than 20 buildings,” Huwara resident Kamal Odeh told AFP.

“Even the trees were not spared. They burned everything. They burned everything they found.”

Wajeh Odeh, a member of the town’s municipality, said 30 houses were burned and damaged while more than 100 cars were torched.

Eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency that the settlers were under heavy protection from Israeli forces. 

The Palestinian health ministry said 37-year-old Sameh Aqtash was shot dead during an attack on the nearby village of Zaatara. The ministry also said a Palestinian was critically wounded in the head. 

The violence came hours after two Israeli settlers — brothers Yagel Yaniv, 20, and Hallel Yaniv, 22 — were shot dead by a Palestinian as they drove through Huwara on Sunday. The shooter fled the scene after the attack. 

On Monday morning, the Israeli military told AFP no-one had been arrested over the arson or killing of Aqtash.

The search for the gunmen who fired on the two Jewish brothers is ongoing.

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Israel’s deadliest military raid

The violence came days after Israeli forces launched their deadliest military raid in the occupied West Bank in nearly 20 years, which claimed the lives of 11 Palestinians in the nearby city of Nablus.

The occupied West Bank is home to about 2.9 million Palestinians as well as an estimated 475,000 Jewish settlers, who live in state-approved settlements considered illegal under international law.

The office of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas accused Israel of “protecting terrorist acts perpetrated by settlers” in the occupied West Bank.

The Hamas movement, which rules besieged Gaza, called on Palestinians “to defend the city of Nablus and repel the settlers’ terrorism.”

The attacks in Huwara came amid talks in Jordan, where Israeli and Palestinian officials reportedly pledged to work to prevent further violence.

Since the start of this year, Israeli forces have killed 63 Palestinians, including children. 

Eleven Israeli civilians, including three children, a police officer and one Ukrainian civilian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both sides.

The violence follows the deadliest year for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since at least 2005.

Israel has illegally occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israeli PM says will not freeze building settlements in occupied West Bank

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