Israel finance minister walks back call for Palestinian town to be ‘wiped out’

– Israel’s finance minister said on Saturday he had chosen his words poorly
when he called for a Palestinian town to be “wiped out” after two
Israeli settlers were killed there.

two young settlers were shot dead on 26 February in their car in Huwara, a
northern town in the West Bank, sparking attacks by Israeli settlers on the
Palestinian town.

think the village of Huwara needs to be wiped out,” Bezalel Smotrich, head
of the far-right Religious Zionism party and a member of Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, had said on Wednesday.

is possible that the word was wrong,” Smotrich told local television on

did not mean harm to innocents when I said that Huwara should be wiped
out,” he tweeted on Saturday.

‘Irresponsible, repugnant, disgusting’

comments had drawn international condemnation, with the UN human rights chief
Volker Turk denouncing them as “an unfathomable statement of incitement to
violence and hostility”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich during a press conference at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem on 25 January 2023.

a staunch ally of Israel, was even more blunt in its response to Smotrich’s

were irresponsible, they were repugnant, they were disgusting,” US State
Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.

from 19 countries – including France, Germany, Japan and the UK – visited
Huwara on Saturday.

“condemn in the strongest terms the heinous and violent acts committed by
settlers”, a joint statement said.

fatal shooting came days after Israeli forces launched their deadliest West
Bank raid in nearly 20 years, which left 11 Palestinians dead in the northern
city of Nablus.

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