Skip to main content

'Huwwara should be wiped out', says Israeli minister

Far-right leader Bezalel Smotrich says the state should destroy the Palestinian town, not civilians
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks at a news conference in Jerusalem, Israel, 8 January 2023 (Rueters)
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks at a news conference in Jerusalem, Israel, 8 January 2023 (Rueters)

Israeli far-right finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, said on Wednesday that the state of Israel should "wipe out" the Palestinian village of Huwwara in the wake of a violent rampage through it by settlers on Sunday. 

Speaking at a forum hosted by the Marker business newspaper, Smotrich - who is responsible for Israel's civil administration in the occupied West Bank - said: "The Palestinian village of Huwwara should be wiped out. The state needs to do it and not private citizens."

At least one Palestinian was killed and nearly 400 were wounded in settler attacks on Huwwara town and other West Bank towns and villages in the Nablus area on Sunday.  

Hundreds of Israeli settlers, flanked by soldiers, attacked Palestinian towns and villages near Nablus following a shooting that killed two Israelis in Huwwara town earlier in the day.  

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Before and after the mob violence took place, several Israeli politicians - including Smotrich - seemed to encourage or support the settlers' actions. 

Smotrich liked a tweet that called for Israeli politicians to show no mercy and that the "village of Huwwara should be erased today".

His comments on Wednesday were made in defence of that liked tweet, which was posted by David Ben Zion, the deputy head of the Samaria Council that governs illegal settlements in the northern West Bank. Ben Zion has since deleted the tweet and claimed it was written "in the heat of the moment". 

'Inducing war crimes' 

Smotrich took to Twitter on Sunday while attacks were ongoing to promote a thread that recommended the "collective punishment of the terrorist's family and environment as an effective and necessary tool in asymmetric warfare".

Collective punishment of occupied populations is illegal under international law.

He also demanded that the Israeli army "hit Palestinian cities, with tanks and helicopters, mercilessly, in a way that would convey that the owner of the house has gone mad". 

A group of 22 Israeli legal experts on Tuesday called on the attorney general to investigate comments made by the Smotrich and other pro-settler government MPs for "inducing war crimes" over their public support for the violent riots.

Hady Amr, US special representative for Palestinian affairs, condemned the “wide scale, indiscriminate violence” by Israeli settlers after visiting Huwwara.

“We want to see full accountability and legal prosecution of those responsible for these heinous attacks and compensation for those who lost property or were otherwise affected,” Amr said. 

On Tuesday, former Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz said that Smotrich was supporting the settler violence and "wants to cause another Palestinian Nakba". 

The Nakba, which means "the catastrophe" in Arabic, is the name given to the massacres and forced expulsion Palestinians endured at the hands of Zionist militias in 1948, as the new Israeli state came into existence.  It left an estimated 15,000 Palestinians dead and some 750,000 fled from their homes.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.