RAMALLAH: Hours after the end of the Sharm El-Sheikh meeting between Israeli and Palestinian officials, overseen by Egypt and attended by Jordan and the US, the Israel Defense Forces arrested a number of Palestinians after two Israeli men were wounded in an attack in the northern West Bank town of Huwara on Sunday.
Shops in Huwara were closed over fear of revenge attacks by Israeli settlers, and there was disruption after IDF personnel were deployed on the streets.
At dawn on Monday, the IDF stormed several towns and villages in the Jenin governorate, and intensified their measures around the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank.
Israeli police arrested several Palestinian activists in East Jerusalem — a few days before the start of Ramadan.
Muin Al-Dumaidi, mayor of Huwara, told Arab News that Israeli troops were deployed heavily inside the town and on the rooftops of houses, preventing shop owners from opening their shops.
“The closure of the town will destroy Huwara’s economy and displace shopkeepers along the main street ahead of Ramadan, as trade forms the backbone of the town’s residents,” Al-Dumaidi said.
He said the closure aims to facilitate the movement of Israeli settlers who pass through the town so that they are not hindered by traffic congestion.
“Shop owners keep calling me, asking when we will be allowed to reopen them, and I have no answer,” Al-Dumaidi said.
On Feb. 26, Israeli settlers burned more than 40 houses and over 50 vehicles in the town.
Elisha Yared, spokesman for Israeli politician Limor Son Har Melech, called for the Palestinian town of Huwara to be wiped out.
“Wipeout Huwara now, without apology and hesitation ... As long as we don’t understand this, the killing (of Israelis) will continue in the streets,” Yared wrote on Twitter in response to the Huwara attack.
Meanwhile, settlers assaulted Palestinians in different parts of the West Bank, such as Jericho, Ramallah, and Nablus, smashing the windows of their vehicles and assaulting them with no intervention from the IDF or police.
They ransacked several shops in the Old City of Hebron, and slashed the tires of vehicles and wrote racist slogans on the walls of houses in Salfit. Earlier in the day, settlers smashed the windows of several cars at the entrance to Beitin village, east of Ramallah.
The Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben- Gvir signed a decision banning the official Voice of Palestine radio station in Jerusalem on Monday, removing its broadcast towers. Israeli sources said that Ben Gvir’s decision came within the framework of combating what he described as “Palestinian incitement.”
Meanwhile, Palestinians reacted angrily to statements by the Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in which he denied the existence of the Palestinian people.
Rejecting these remarks, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said: “We are the ones who gave Palestine its name and the land its value and status … We have learned from history that colonialism is coming to an end and that the will and belonging of our people are not shaken by the statements of the falsifiers of history and their false claims.”
Separately, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, will vote on a bill to nullify the “disengagement” law in the occupied West Bank, which allows the return to settlements that Israel evacuated in 2005 in the northern West Bank.
The bill allows for a return to settlements in the northern occupied West Bank after lifting the ban imposed by the “disengagement” law drafted by the party of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Israeli media reported that the Legislative Committee in the Knesset amended the proposal’s wording to ensure that it does not apply to the settlements evacuated in the Gaza Strip in 2005.
Meanwhile, Palestinians in the West Bank said they did not expect any change in their lives after the Sharm El-Sheikh summit on Sunday, believing that Israel will not fulfil any of the promises or agreements that have been agreed upon.
Political analyst Riyad Qadriya told Arab News that he ruled out the implementation of any of the Sharm El-Sheikh security understandings on Sunday, either by Israel or the Palestinian Authority.
“It will be impossible to implement the security provisions of the Sharm El-Sheikh understandings without handing over all of Area A to Palestinian security,” Qadriya said.