Smotrich, leader of the far-right Religious Zionism Party, one of the government coalition partners led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called for ethnic cleansing in the region by supporting the mass attacks of Jewish settlers against Palestinians in the town of Huwwara, south of Nablus, on February 26.
According to Haaretz, Smotrich was asked “why he liked” a post on Twitter by David Ben Zion, the local Israeli official in illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank, calling for Huwwara to be “destroyed today”, and replied:
“Because I think the town of Huvvara should be wiped off the face of the earth. I think the State of Israel should do this. This should not be done by the hands of the citizens.”
CALL FOR 'DIVERSE POWER' AGAINST PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
In addition to the Ministry of Finance, Smotrich, who is also an Assistant Minister for the "Civil Affairs Administration" responsible for illegal settlements, issued a written statement after his racist statements were reflected in the Israeli press.
In the statement, Smotrich, claiming that "the media is once again trying to distort my words", this time called for "disproportionate violence" against the Palestinians.
Smotrich used the following statements:
“I said I support the disproportionate response of the Israeli army and security forces to every act of terrorism. Until the terrorists and their supporters understand, the closure of shops in the area for every stone thrown; the arrest and deportation of the families of terrorists for every Molotov cocktail; a siege and a bitter price must be paid for every terrorist cell.”
On the other hand, one of the highest ranking generals of the Israeli army described the attacks in Huwwara, in which Jewish settlers set fire to Palestinian homes, businesses and vehicles, as a "pogrom" (a massacre against a minority group).
Major General Yehuda Fuchs, head of the Israeli Army's Central Command, told Israel's Channel 12 television, "The incident in Huwwara was a pogrom."
Noting that the military predicted that settlers would likely attack Palestinians in the West Bank following a shooting that killed two Israelis, Fuchs said they "did not foresee such a pogrom".
The raid by Israeli forces on Nablus, in the north of the occupied West Bank, from several points on February 22, led to a series of events that escalated the tension again.
Surrounding a house in the historic Old City of Nablus, Israeli soldiers intervened with live bullets against Palestinians protesting the raid, killing 11 Palestinians, including a child and two elderly, and wounding more than 100 Palestinians, 6 of them seriously.
After the bloody raid in Nablus, two Jewish settlers were killed in an armed attack in the town of Huwwara on February 26.
After the incident, hundreds of fanatical Jews came to Huwwara under the supervision of the Israeli army and organized mass revenge attacks against the Palestinians.
Settlers had set fire to dozens of houses, workplaces and cars in the town, injured some Palestinians by attempting to lynch and killed 1 person.
While the attacks drew great reactions from some sections of Israel as well as the international community, a group of Israeli lawyers filed a criminal complaint against Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who supported the attacks, and some far-right deputies on the grounds that they "encouraged war crimes".
22 Israeli international legal experts, in their petition submitted to Israel's Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara on February 28, stated that the statements made by Finance Minister Smotrich, far-right deputies Zvi Fogel and Limor Son Har-Melech during and after the attacks "turn settlers into committing war crimes".