In a disturbing incident that underscores the escalating violence involving Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, a Palestinian youth lost his life during an attack on the town of Huwara. Labib Dumaidi, a 19-year-old university student, was tragically shot in the heart by an Israeli settler. The incident has further strained an already volatile situation in the region, where settler violence has been on the rise.
Dumaidi sought refuge on the rooftop of his home, which was under assault from a group of Israeli settlers when one of them opened fire. The Israeli military’s account of the incident differs, stating that a suspect was shot after allegedly throwing a brick at a vehicle. However, no details regarding the victim’s identity were provided.
The attack occurred late at night when more than 200 settlers gathered in the heart of Huwara, some with their faces covered, shouting and dancing. They began pelting stones at houses, prompting young residents to defend their homes by throwing stones in return. Shockingly, witnesses claim that Israeli soldiers in the vicinity turned a blind eye to the violence, raising concerns of collusion between settlers and the military.
Labib Dumaidi’s tragic death is part of a broader surge in settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank. These incidents have included mob attacks targeting Palestinian towns and residents, often occurring in the presence of Israeli soldiers. Some of these assaults have been provoked by Palestinian attacks on Israeli settlements and settlers.
This recent attack follows a Palestinian gunman’s shooting at an Israeli vehicle in Huwara the day before. Located on a road connecting the Palestinian cities of Nablus and Ramallah, Huwara finds itself encircled by Israeli settlements, which are deemed illegal under international law.
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned Dumaidi’s killing as a “heinous crime.” During Dumaidi’s funeral procession, the Palestinian Red Crescent reported that at least 51 Palestinians were injured as Israeli forces deployed tear gas, rubber-tipped bullets, and live ammunition to disperse the gathering.
Settler violence against Palestinians has seen a significant increase over the past year, averaging three incidents per day for the first eight months of 2023, according to the United Nations. While Palestinian attacks on Jewish settlement residents often lead to harsh countermeasures, Israeli authorities have rarely held settlers accountable for acts of violence. Palestinians assert that this lack of accountability is part of a deliberate campaign to force them off their land.
Huwara has witnessed some of the most notable cases of settler violence in recent times. Following the murder of two Israeli brothers by a Palestinian in February, right-wing settlers rampaged through the town, wielding weapons and killing a 37-year-old man. The town’s turbulent history has fueled tensions, prompting Israel’s far-right Minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich, to make controversial remarks suggesting the town should be “wiped out.”
As the cycle of violence continues to escalate, international attention remains focused on the plight of Palestinians in the West Bank and the urgent need for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict.