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Israelis and Palestinians killed in the West Bank during talks in Jordan


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At least two Israelis and two Palestinians were killed in ongoing violence in the occupied West Bank on Sunday.

Two Israelis living in a West Bank settlement were killed in an alleged “Palestinian attack,” officials said, sparking violence in which the Palestinian was killed, while settlers set fire to homes in retaliation.

The latest deaths came amid talks in Jordan to discuss worsening violence in the occupied territories, and days after Israeli forces launched their deadliest raids in the West Bank in nearly 20 years, which left 11 Palestinians dead in the northern city of Nablus.

Sunday’s attack on the settlers – brothers Yagel Yaniv, 20, and Hillel Yaniv, 22, took place just south of the city, targeting a car on the main road through the town of Hawara.

A joint statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, confirmed that “Israeli civilians were killed in a Palestinian attack,” for which no group claimed responsibility.

A statement from the community said they were both residents of Har Bracha, a religious Jewish settlement near Nablus.

Late Sunday, Israeli media reported clashes between Palestinians and settlers seeking revenge near Hawara.

The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that settlers “set fire to a number of Palestinian homes in villages near Nablus.”

The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that the Palestinian, Sameh Aqtash, 37, was shot dead in the village of Za’tara, near Nablus.

The Israeli army did not immediately comment, but said it had evacuated dozens of Palestinians from their homes, which were threatened by fires in Hawara.

Netanyahu calls for calm

An eyewitness, Abdullah al-Hawari, 36, reported that “large numbers of settlers attacked the village of Hawara” and set fire to homes and cars.

He said, “I see flames in front of me.” “Wherever I turn my eyes, I see the flames of a house on fire.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog issued a “strong condemnation”.

“Taking the law into one’s own hands, stirring up riots and committing violence against innocent people — that’s not our way,” Herzog said.

The Palestinian Red Cross said 98 people were treated, most of them after inhaling tear gas, while the Israeli emergency services reported that three Israelis were injured after being hit by stones.

Netanyahu, in a video released by his office, called for calm.

“I ask – even when blood boils – that one does not take the law into one’s own hands,” Netanyahu said, calling for “the security forces to be allowed to do their work.”

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

The West Bank is home to some 2.9 million Palestinians, as well as an estimated 475,000 Jewish settlers who live in settlements approved by the state that are illegal under international law.

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

France’s foreign ministry warned on Monday that the situation around Hawara threatened to spiral out of control, denouncing the initial killings and the violent reaction that followed.

“France calls on all parties to avoid fueling violence and to contribute to de-escalation,” it said in a statement.

Jordan talks

The violence came as Israeli-Palestinian talks were held in Jordan aimed at quelling the escalation of violence in the West Bank.

After the killing, Orit Struck called on the settlers and the government minister to “immediately return the Israeli delegation” from the meeting in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba.

During the talks, Israel and the Palestinians “after extensive and frank discussions” pledged in a joint statement to work to prevent new acts of violence.

The statement said that the two sides “stressed the need to commit to de-escalation on the ground and to prevent further violence.”

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement described Sunday’s shooting in Hawara as a “heroic operation”.

“It sends a strong message to the Aqaba summit that our (Palestinian) resistance exists,” said Islamic Jihad, which has joined Hamas and other armed groups in opposing the Jordan talks.

Since the beginning of this year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 63 Palestinian adults and children, including armed combatants and civilians.

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

The violence follows the bloodiest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since at least 2005, which has continued since Netanyahu returned to power in December.

He leads an alliance with ultra-Orthodox and far-right Jewish parties and has pledged to continue Israeli settlement expansion in the Palestinian territories.

Netanyahu handed his ally Ben Gvir significant powers in the West Bank, despite the hardliners’ history of inflammatory statements about the Palestinians.

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