Itamar settlement killing leads to mass arrests


Family members mourn during the funeral for five members of the Fogel family on March 13, 2011, in Jerusalem, Israel.


Uriel Sinai

Israeli forces reportedly took in all men from a West Bank village for questioning Monday, as tensions between Israel and the Palestinians remained high after the killing Friday of a settlement family of five.

The Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service made "wholesale arrests" Monday in the West Bank village of Awarta, reports Haaretz.

A Palestinian allegedly stormed a home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar near Nablus Friday night and stabbed to death a couple, Udi and Ruth Fogel, and three of their children, including a one-month old baby.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack Monday in an interview with Israel Radio.

"A human being is not capable of something like that," he said. "Scenes like these - the murder of infants and children and a woman slaughtered - cause any person endowed with humanity to hurt and to cry."

Earlier, dozens of Israeli settlers responded to the killings by hurling stones at a Palestinian village, and Israel announced new plans to expand settlement construction in the West Bank.

Palestinian journalists, columnists and individuals have condemned the attack, but the Palestinian leadership had remained hesitant to admit a Palestinian could commit such a heinous act, Haaretz reports.

It states: "Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said no Palestinian had ever murdered an infant or civilians in such a manner, either for nationalist causes or in revenge, 'which raises doubts regarding Israel's haste to accuse the Palestinians.' "

After the attack, Israel has accused the Palestinian Authority of indirectly encouraging such violence, the New York Times reports.

The heightened tensions between Israel and the Palestinians over the killings are likely to push back efforts to restart stalled peace talks.


-- Hanna Ingber Win