Israeli minister calls for Palestinian village to be ‘wiped out’
Calls by Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich to destroy the Palestinian village of Huwara raises fears of a second Nakba
By News Desk - March 01 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich who called Wednesday to ‘wipe out’ the Palestinian village of Huwara. (Photo Credit: Ronen Zvulun /AP)

Israeli Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, called for Israel to “wipe out” the Palestinian village of Huwara in the wake of a violent rampage by settlers on Sunday, Middle East Eye has reported.

On 1 March, Smotrich, who is also responsible for Israel’s civil administration in the occupied West Bank, said in a forum hosted by the Marker business newspaper that “The Palestinian village of Huwwara should be wiped out. The state needs to do it and not private citizens.”

Settlers attacked Huwara and other West Bank towns and villages in the Nablus area on Sunday, 26 February, killing one Palestinian and injuring nearly 400. Hundreds of Israeli settlers, flanked by soldiers, carried out the pogrom-style attacks following a shooting that killed two Israelis in Huwara town earlier in the day.

Smotrich also liked a tweet that called for Israeli politicians to show no mercy and that the “village of Huwara should be erased today.”

On Tuesday, former Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said that Smotrich was supporting the settler mob violence and “wants to cause another Palestinian Nakba.”

In 1947, pre-state militias initiated a policy of “transfer” to forcibly expel some 750,00 Palestinians from their homes. This process of ethnic cleansing, known by Palestinians as the Catastrophe, or Nakba, allowed Zionist leaders to acquire the territory necessary for the creation of a new state with a Jewish majority, namely Israel. As Israeli historian Benny Morris has shown, the transfer campaign was not only deliberate but accompanied by many massacres and rapes at the hands of such militias.

Before Morris published his findings, Israeli historians often claimed that no such deliberate ethnic cleansing campaign had taken place and that Palestinians had voluntarily left their homes when fighting broke out between the militias and neighboring Arab armies in 1948. By leaving their homes, the majority of Palestinians became refugees in neighboring Arab countries, the West Bank (then under Jordanian control) and Gaza (then under Egyptian control).

When Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza during the Six Day war in 1967, the Israeli military did not carry out a similar transfer campaign to expel the indigenous Palestinian population. Instead, both areas were placed under Israeli military occupation. Palestinians were denied basic civic rights, and their land was gradually confiscated by the Israeli authorities to pave the way for the building of settlements to house new Jewish immigrants.

The slow but deliberate process of Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian land, coupled with forcing Palestinians to live under Israeli military occupation, formed the system that the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has categorized as apartheid.

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