Protesters said Israeli troops fired stun grenades and prevented hundreds of Israeli left-wing activists from holding a solidarity rally on Friday in a Palestinian town that was torched by hardline Jewish settlers.
Activists said soldiers pinned at least two protesters to the ground, pressing their knees to their necks and backs before briefly detaining them.
Israeli rights activists said soldiers and border policemen blocked buses of protesters from entering the occupied West Bank city of Havara, which still bears the scars of Sunday’s settler-led assault.
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According to Sally Abed from the group Standing Together, soldiers wrestled at least two protesters to the ground as they tried to kick and handcuff them. Both were eventually released, she said.
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hundreds of settlers, some armed with knives and guns, rampaged through Havara on Sunday, shooting and killing two Israeli brothers nearby and torching dozens of homes and businesses. A Palestinian was killed in a mob attack.
On Friday, about 500 people carrying signs of solidarity and Palestinian flags – mostly older men and women, both Jewish and Arab civilians – got off buses and marched towards the highway leading to Hawara, defying army orders.
Palestinian motorists honked in support. Protesters chanted “No to the occupation” and “End Jewish terror”. Facing hordes of police and soldiers deployed to stop their peaceful protest, they shouted, “Where were you when the storm happened?” – referring to the intense uproar that went largely unchecked and unaffected.
Abed said that in response to a crowd of protesters marching towards Hawara, Israeli forces fired stun grenades and tried to stop them.
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Standing Together said, “It is ridiculous that the army allows settlers to enter Havara as we speak, but we – Israeli Jews and Arabs who want to show our solidarity – are told no entry ” The group said the rally was coordinated with the local council and residents.
Unlike Palestinian cities such as Ramallah which are under the control of the Palestinian Authority, Hawara is mostly under Israeli security control. The Israeli army has said that the brutality and scope of the settler mobs earlier this week surprised them. The Ministry of Defense has sent two suspected ringleaders of the violence to administrative custody.
Hawara, a city of 7,000 Palestinians surrounded by ideological settlements, has long been the center of violence between Israelis and Palestinians
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Earlier on Friday, a delegation of European diplomats visited Hawara and a neighboring village to survey the damage and condemn the devastation.
The rampage has drawn condemnation from around the world, with finance minister and settler leader Bezalel Smotrich in particular saying on Wednesday that Hawara should be “wiped out”. Smotrich, whose party wants Israel to formally annex large parts of the West Bank, later retracted those comments.
Egypt’s foreign ministry on Friday called Smotrich’s remarks a “dangerous and unacceptable incitement to violence”.
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