NABLUS, PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: Angry Israeli settlers entered a village near Nablus on Sunday after the grisly murder of a family of five, as police went on high alert to prevent revenge attacks.
Palestinians from Burin, which lies five kilometres west of Itamar settlement where the deadly stabbing attack took place late on Friday, said settlers had attacked the village on Saturday and had returned overnight, throwing stones and setting fire to one of the
But Israeli troops quickly arrived at the scene and sent the settlers away, declaring the village a closed military zone, witnesses said.
Israel police said they had raised their level of alert after the attack in Itamar which left five people dead: two boys aged 11 and 4, their three-month-old sister, and their parents.
“We have raised our level of alert in order to be ready for any disturbances on Sunday, the day in which the victims will be buried in Jerusalem,” the police spokesperson, Mr Micky Rosenfeld said.
The funeral will take place at a Jerusalem cemetery at 1.30 pm.
An army spokesperson said troops deployed throughout the West Bank had also been ordered “to be vigilant” for any attempted revenge attacks.
The attack took place in Itamar, a settlement home to around 800 Israeli Jews known for their strongly ideological views, on the southeastern outskirts of Nablus.
Troops were still operating in the nearby village of Awarta, which lies immediately west of Itamar, where they had arrested 20 people on Saturday after conducting house-to-house searches, Palestinian security sources said.
The soldiers returned early on Sunday and imposed a curfew as they continued their hunt for the attackers, they said.
In the southern West Bank, Palestinian witnesses said settlers had thrown stones at cars and houses in and around the southern city of Hebron, smashing at the windshields of at least four cars.
In the southern village of Yatta, settlers threw stones at a fire engine with one person injured from flying glass, they said.
Overnight, Israeli troops who came to disperse stone-throwing settlers in Beit Ummar north of Hebron, were themselves subjected to stonethrowing by Palestinian youngsters, and fired tear gas to clear the area, residents said.
The Nablus area is known for the ongoing friction between Jewish settlers and Palestinian residents, with tensions often disintegrating into clashes with rocks or even gunfire.
Police are concerned the killings could spark a wave of revenge attacks by some of the more extreme settlers — those known to carry out “price tag” attacks against local Palestinians when the Israeli government engages in “anti-settler” activity.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed “deep outrage” and shock over the savage attack on Saturday, but also called for restraint, saying the perpetrators would be brought to justice by the army.
“Despite all the awful pain, I call upon all Israelis to act responsibly, with restraint, and not to take the law into their own hands,” the Israeli premier said.
“When one takes the law into his own hands, there is no law. The IDF (army) and the security forces will carry out their responsibilities; only they.”