[Photo: One of several Palestinian cars set fire by Israeli settlers. Photo: Maan News Agencies]
Palestinian news agency Ma’an posted photographs of three charred vehicles: a BMW, Peugeot and Renault in the northern outskirts of Ramallah near the illegal Beit El settlement (see above and below)
The graffiti, sprayed on the wall of a home, read “blood will flow in Judea and Samaria” and “this is war,” according to Ma’an and Palestinian state news agency Wafa. Judea and Samaria is the Israeli name for the West Bank. (see below)
Local resident Hatim Subuh was cited by Ma’an as saying that Tuesday’s attack was the third of its kind in the area. Settlers from the illegal Beit El outpost are notorious for their overnight attacks on Palestinian targets, routinely setting fire to orchards, slashing tires of vehicle and assaulting residents.
Israeli occupation forces rarely prosecute the perpetrators, and have in some cases provided cover to settlers as they torched Palestinian olive trees.
The latest attack was presumably carried out in response to the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners who had been locked up in Israeli prisons for over 20 years.
Israel released the prisoners early Tuesday as part of the so-called peace talks between the occupation authorities and the western-backed Palestinian Authority.
The prisoners were the third batch of 104 detainees that Israel’s prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to release in four stages. All were imprisoned before the 1993 Oslo accords.
The freed prisoners were hailed by Palestinians as heroes imprisoned for fighting against the Israeli occupation, with some welcomed back to Ramallah in the West Bank, others to east Jerusalem and the remainder into Gaza.
Palestinian media hailed the prisoners as “heroic fighters” and looked forward to the release of the final batch by end of April, when the nine-month period for talks is to end.
The 18 men taken to Ramallah were warmly embraced by PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in his presidential compound, a correspondent said, before laying flowers on the grave of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Tuesday’s release was expected to be accompanied by announcements of new construction plans for Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, including east Jerusalem, as the previous two prisoner releases were.
Such a move is likely to infuriate the Palestinians and the international community.