EUJS Statement on the Escalating Violence in Israel and the West Bank

Brussels, Belgium – 3 March 2023

With grave concern, EUJS has been closely following the events that have been unfolding in Huwara in the past week. The escalating violence and tension, in part propagated by serving government ministers who have called for further violence, is deeply worrying to EUJS as it should be to all proponents of justice and human rights.

On February 26th, Hallel and Yagel Yaniv, two brothers who were travelling through Huwara in the West Bank, were brutally murdered by a Palestinian terrorist. As a response, Israeli settlers decided to take the law into their own hands and went on an assault and arson rampage in the same town. Consequently, a Palestinian man lost his life and hundreds were injured. Just hours later, a Palestinian terrorist shot and killed an Israeli-American man near the town of Jericho. 

Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s Finance minister, despicably called for the ‘[wiping] out’ of Huwara. Zivka Fogel, a member of the Otzma Yehudit party, a party in the ruling coalition, called for ‘a closed, burnt Huwara’. Such inciting calls for violence by leading political figures in the government are deeply unsettling and run contrary to the laws of the State of Israel. 

The normalisation and glorification of violence is appalling and irresponsible from any elected official in a democratic state.

As the representative body and voice of young Jews in Europe, we are directly affected by the events that are transpiring in Israel and the West Bank. Accordingly, we believe that it is essential for us to share our own concerns. As a Zionist and democratic organisation, it is deeply unnerving for us to witness the palpable tension within Israeli society.

The recent incidents in Huwara occur at a time when Israel’s democratic nature and future are increasingly being called into question. Furthermore, the Israeli police’s use of excessive force against peaceful Israeli demonstrators in the past days has only exacerbated this issue.

When coupled with the tragic events in Huwara and the reckless and disgraceful remarks by serving minister Bezalel Smotrich, the European Union of Jewish Students urges Israel’s political leadership to acknowledge their role in escalating the situation in Huwara and the West Bank. It is crucial that the Israeli government does not endanger the country’s democratic values nor isolate itself from its own people, friends and allies by continuing down this perilous path.