State Department condemns West Bank violence between Palestinians, Israeli settlers

The State Department condemned rising violence in the West Bank on Monday, encouraging both sides to de-escalate tensions after clashes that have killed an Israeli and two Palestinians.

Violence broke out last week as Israeli settlers searched for a missing 14-year-old boy. Dozens of Israeli settlers rushed into towns in the West Bank, burning homes and cars and fighting with Palestinians. Two Palestinians, a 25-year-old and a 17-year-old, were killed in the clashes, and dozens were injured, the State Department said.

The boy was found dead in the West Bank on Saturday, sparking another wave of violence. The Israeli military said the boy was killed in a “terrorist attack,” though no details of his death were made available. The State Department referred to the boy’s death as “murder.”

Videos shared online showed Palestinians lobbing rocks at Israeli military vehicles spraying tear gas, as well as street fights between settlers and Palestinians.

“The violence must stop.  Civilians are never legitimate targets,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement. ”We call on the authorities to take measures to protect all communities from harm, and we urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority to do everything possible to de-escalate tensions.”

Violence has been rising in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since the deadly Hamas attacks on Oct. 7. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah said more than 450 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces or in settler attacks in the West Bank since then. 

The Biden administration has increased pressure on the Israeli government to limit illegal settlers in recent months, implementing multiple rounds of sanctions against individuals who are responsible for some violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

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