Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s recent call for the destruction of the Palestinian town of Huwara in the West Bank has sparked widespread condemnation of this extremist statement from around the world. Speaking at a conference of the business newspaper TheMarker on Wednesday, Smotrich, who is also responsible for settlement expansion in the West Bank, said: “I think the village of Huwara has to be wiped out. I think the State of Israel has to do this – for God’s sake not private individuals.”
The statement has been labeled as “Extremist, disgusting, irresponsible and repulsive” by the US State Department, with a spokesperson calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to publicly reject the minister’s demands. The move has also been criticized by various human rights groups, with many accusing Smotrich of promoting ethnic cleansing and advocating for the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes.
The statement comes in the wake of a shooting incident in Huwara on Sunday. The incident has led to a wave of violence in the area, with Israeli settlers rioting near the scene of the crime and injuring hundreds of Palestinians. Dozens of homes, businesses and cars were also set on fire.
Following the riots, deputy from the far-right coalition party Ozma Jehudit, Zvika Fogel, praised the actions of the settlers, stating that “after a murder like yesterday, the villages must burn if the army does nothing. Huwara closed and burned, that’s what I want to see.” The Israeli Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara has ordered police investigations into Fogel for incitement to violence.
The incident has brought the long-standing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians back into the spotlight. Since the beginning of the year, 13 Israelis and one Ukrainian have been killed in Palestinian attacks, while 63 Palestinians have lost their lives, either in confrontations with the Israeli army or in their own attacks.
The West Bank and East Jerusalem were conquered by Israel in 1967. Today, more than 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the area, which the Palestinians claim for their own state. The issue remains a source of tension between the two sides, with the Palestinian Authority calling for an end to Israeli settlement expansion in the region.
The statement made by Smotrich has been widely condemned by the international community, with many accusing him of promoting ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and advocating for the expulsion of Palestinians from their own homeland. The incident has once again highlighted the deep divisions that exist between Israelis and Palestinians and the need for a long-term solution to the conflict.