Herzog calls Abbas to condemn settler violence; Gallant pledges to combat riots

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President Isaac Herzog called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday ahead of this week’s Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday and stressed the need to fight terrorism and incitement, following a string of deadly attacks on Israelis in the West Bank.

Herzog also condemned vigilante attacks by Israelis on Palestinian civilians in the wake of the past week’s rampages in Turmus Ayya and other West Bank locations.

Also Tuesday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke with senior Palestinian Authority official Hussein al-Sheikh about recent incidents in the West Bank, including the settler attacks on Palestinians, his office said.

In the wake of a deadly Palestinian terror attack on June 20, in which four Israelis were killed by Hamas-affiliated gunmen, hundreds of settlers rampaged in Palestinian towns and villages for five days, setting fire to homes, cars, and even opening fire in some cases. One Palestinian was killed Wednesday in unclear circumstances.

According to a readout from the Defense Ministry, Gallant told al-Sheikh — who holds the Civil Affairs portfolio — that Israel “views the violence used by extremist elements against Palestinian citizens in recent days with severity, and emphasized that Israel will work to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Gallant told al-Sheikh that Israeli security forces would “work to thwart terror wherever required,” and asked to convey a message to the Palestinian Authority to take “quick and powerful action against the centers of terrorism, which work to destabilize the area,” according to the readout.

Right: Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh gives an interview to The Associate Press, at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 13, 2022. Left: Defense Minister Yoav Gallant attends an event at the Knesset, June 13, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The pair agreed that there was a need to calm the atmosphere in the West Bank “for the sake of the Israeli and Palestinian population,” the ministry said.

It was the first such publicly announced call between Gallant and Palestinian Authority officials. The military’s liaison to the Palestinians, Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian, also participated in the call.

Palestinians walk past a burnt car, which was set on fire by Israeli settlers the day before, in Turmus Ayya near the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 22, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Gallant also wished al-Sheikh a happy Eid al-Adha, “hoping that the holiday will be an opportunity to strengthen security stability in the region,” his office said.

There was no immediate readout from the Palestinian side on the call.

Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have been high across the West Bank for the past year and a half, with the military carrying out near-nightly raids, amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks.

Early Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces said troops detained six wanted Palestinians in the city of Nablus, and 11 other suspects in other areas of the West Bank.

Since the beginning of the year, Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank have killed 24 people.

According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 134 West Bank Palestinians have been killed during that time, most of them during clashes with security forces or while carrying out attacks, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under unclear circumstances.

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