A member of Knesset on Monday praised Jews who rioted in a Palestinian village after a terrorist killed two Israeli siblings there.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry claimed that Sameh Aqtash, a 37-year-old man, was shot dead by Israeli fire during accompanying riots in Za’tara, south of Huwara.
The IDF said that Aqtash “was not shot by an Israeli soldier.”
The response to the rioting reflected differences of opinion within the government as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed for calm and others praised the vigilante action as deterrence against Palestinian attacks.
“Yesterday a terrorist came from Huwara—Huwara is closed and burned. That is what I want to see. Only thus can we obtain deterrence,” said MK Zvika Fogel of the Otzma Yehudit Party in a radio interview.
“What residents of Judea and Samaria did last night in Huwara was to create the strongest deterrent that the State of Israel has had since Operation Defensive Shield,” he said, referring to the 2002 IDF offensive against the terror infrastructure in Palestinian cities in Judea and Samaria, commonly called the West Bank.
“After murders like those yesterday, when the army doesn’t take action, villages need to burn,” said Fogel.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid said that Fogel should be imprisoned for his incendiary remarks.
“This is not a fully right-wing government, it is a fully anarchist government. MK Fogel should go to jail for incitement to terror,” Lapid wrote on Twitter.
Other opposition lawmakers said that Fogel should no longer serve as chairman of the Knesset National Security Committee.
The violence began when a Palestinian terrorist shot and killed Hillel and Yagel Yaniv as they drove through Huwara on the area’s main north-south highway. The brothers, ages 21 and 19, hailed from the nearby Jewish community of Har Bracha.
The attacker or attackers remain at large and an IDF manhunt is still underway to apprehend them. Following the shooting, scores of Israelis set Palestinians’ homes and cars aflame in Huwara.
President Isaac Herzog condemned the lawbreakers.
“Taking the law into one’s hands, rioting and committing violence against innocents—this is not our way, and I express my forceful condemnation,” Herzog said. ”We must allow the IDF, the police and the security forces to apprehend the despicable terrorist and restore order immediately.”
After the outcry over his remarks, Fogel retracted them.
“I say unequivocally—I do not encourage civilians to burn villages,” he said at the start of a meeting of the Knesset committee he chairs.
He later wrote on Twitter that his words were twisted even though they were taped on the radio.
“I said that the state is the body that needs to act to deter the terrorists, and under no circumstances should citizens [do the same]. We cannot arrive at a situation where civilians take the law into their own hands. The government and the IDF’s role is to provide the necessary defense, with aggressiveness and determination, and not by accepting the situation.”