Palestinian men sit in front of closed shops on an empty street in the town of Huwara, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, March 26, 2023. (Photo by Nidal Eshtayeh/Xinhua)
RAMALLAH, March 26 (Xinhua) -- It was an unusually quiet Sunday in the Palestinian town of Huwara, as it was completely devoid of traffic and pedestrians, while its shops and all public facilities were closed.
On Saturday night, the Israeli army sealed off the town, closed all stores and deployed dozens of soldiers in the streets to prevent the residents from moving.
The blockade came following a drive-by shooting attack that wounded two Israeli soldiers in Huwara.
Commenting on the latest shooting, Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said "it is time to restore order there ... or the next attack is only a matter of time."
Local eyewitnesses told Xinhua that groups of settlers tried on Saturday night to attack the northern parts of the town, but the Israeli soldiers thwarted their attempts.
Local residents of Huwara expressed their concerns that Israeli settlers would escalate their attacks against them as they did in February.
"As a result, none of the Palestinian males slept and we prepared ourselves to confront any settlers' attacks that would target our properties," Firas Dumaidi, a local young man, told Xinhua.
In February, Huwara was subjected to violent revenge attacks by hundreds of Israeli settlers, after a Palestinian in a passing vehicle shot dead two Israelis near the Huwara checkpoint. At least a Palestinian was killed and tens of locals were wounded during the clash, according to official Palestinian data.
"Once again, we found ourselves, even without any prior notice, stuck in our houses and waited for our unknown fate," Mirvat Dumaidi, a 50-year-old mother of five, told Xinhua.
Meanwhile, groups of settlers on Sunday burned down a Palestinian-inhabited house in the town of Sinjil, north of Ramallah, in the central West Bank, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources.
Bahaa Fuqaha, a local official in the town, told Xinhua that settlers threw incendiary materials at the house, in which a six-member family was staying.
"Miraculously, the family managed to escape from certain death," Fuqaha said, adding that "however, the family became homeless as its house was completely damaged."
The current tension came after a week of commitment issued by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and Israel in a quintet meeting in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to calm a surge of violence in the West Bank ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Following the meeting, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority reaffirmed their commitment to advancing security, stability, and peace for both Palestinians and Israelis.
The Palestinian Territories have witnessed an escalation between the Israeli army and the Palestinians which led to the killing of dozens of Palestinians and Israelis over the past year.
Israel said that its forces carried out the daily raids to arrest the Palestinian suspects who are planning to commit attacks against Israelis, while the Palestinians described the raids as "crimes and violations."
The Palestinian Health Ministry said that 90 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers this year. Meanwhile, official Israeli figures said that 15 Israelis were killed in attacks carried out by Palestinians. ■
A closed shop is seen on an empty street in the town of Huwara, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, March 26, 2023. (Photo by Nidal Eshtayeh/Xinhua)
A Palestinian man inspects the damage in a house burned down by Israeli settlers, in the town of Sinjil north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 26, 2023. (Photo by Nidal Eshtayeh/Xinhua)
A Palestinian girl inspects the damage in a house burned down by Israeli settlers, in the town of Sinjil north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 26, 2023. (Photo by Nidal Eshtayeh/Xinhua)