UAE pledges 3m to rebuild Palestinian town raided by settlers
March 17, 2023 09:32 AM
The United Arab Emirates has pledged $3 million to support the reconstruction of a Palestinian town in the occupied West Bank that was raided by Israeli settlers, state media said Thursday.
Deadly violence and arson by settlers targeted the town of Huwara in the northern West Bank late last month, hours after two Israeli settlers were shot dead by an alleged Hamas militant as they drove along a road that passes through the area.
Thirty houses were burned and damaged, according to local officials, after dozens of Israeli settlers set them ablaze.
Bezalel Smotrich, Israel's finance minister and an extreme-right settler, later said "Huwara needs to be wiped out", sparking widespread condemnation, including from the UAE, the UN, the United States and France.
Emirati President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan ordered "the provision of $3 million to support the reconstruction of the Palestinian town of Huwara and those affected by the latest events", the official WAM news agency said.
The initiative reflects "the UAE's humanitarian efforts to support the brotherly Palestinian people", WAM added.
The UAE and Israel have steadily deepened ties since they normalised relations in 2020 as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords.
But the Gulf state has also issued a spate of condemnations against Israeli forces this year, including for storming the Palestinian camp of Jenin and the city of Nablus.
Anwar Gargash, a senior adviser to the UAE president, called the $3 million pledge an "authentic" expression of the country's "consistent and firm" support for the Palestinian people.
The West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War, is home to about 2.9 million Palestinians.
It also houses an estimated 475,000 Jewish settlers who live in state-approved settlements considered illegal under international law.
Since the start of the year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 81 Palestinian adults and children, including militants and civilians.
Thirteen Israeli adults and children, including members of the security forces and civilians, and one Ukrainian civilian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both sides.