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Palestinian Americans are latest victims of violence in Israeli occupied West Bank


Palestinian Americans are the latest victims of the ongoing violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.


MARTÍNEZ: A village where many Palestinian Americans live is now the scene of torched homes and cars. Hundreds of Israeli settlers rampaged through the village. One Palestinian married to a U.S. citizen was killed by Israeli police during the confrontation. The settlers were avenging the deaths of Israelis killed by Palestinians the day before in a nearby settlement. NPR's Daniel Estrin is in the West Bank village where all of this happened. Daniel, what have you seen?

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Well, I drove into the village of Turmus Aya, and I drove past palm trees that lined the road on both sides and, you know, you see big mansions here. It feels a lot like Los Angeles, and the reason is that the vast majority of the villagers here are Palestinian American. I met a family on summer vacation from Georgia. The grandson was at his grandma's house. He was playing on his iPad, and hundreds of settlers marched past the home yesterday. One of them beat the grandmother with a rod, and then they torched the home. And I'm next to the home right now. And it just - it reeks. I also met a woman from Chicago whose husband was killed by an Israeli policeman here yesterday. The policeman said he felt he was being shot at, so he opened fire and the wife disputes that.

But the villagers here say no one is protecting them. The Israeli police have not announced a single arrest, and an Israeli military official told me, clearly we failed. Troops arrived way too late here to the village. But, you know, it was no secret that settlers sought revenge for the Palestinian shooting the day before. I drove all along the road here, saw posters in Hebrew that say revenge.

MARTÍNEZ: We mentioned that it's Palestinian Americans that were affected. So is the United States doing anything about this?

ESTRIN: Well, the U.S. says it's appalled at the settler attacks in this and other villages. It's called for Israel to protect U.S. civilians here. But you know what? U.S. diplomacy is really failing. Recently, the U.S. got the - got Israel to agree to a freeze in settlement building here. But Israel has just announced a big expansion of Israeli settlements. What you do see is a new phenomenon in the U.S. - more Palestinian Americans elected to office. And I met one of them visiting his village here, his home village. It's Illinois state legislator Abdelnasser Rashid. Here's what he told me.

ABDELNASSER RASHID: On the one hand, there is such joy in being here, and on the other, there is a brutal, violent, racist military occupation. The government in the United States is what is enabling this through our completely unaccountable support for Israel.

ESTRIN: That's the message he brought in a meeting today with a senior State Department official.

MARTÍNEZ: Daniel, where's all this headed now?

ESTRIN: A, it just feels that things are really getting out of hand very quickly. It started earlier this week with a deadly Israeli raid in Jenin. Israeli soldiers were wounded, and they used attack helicopters for the first time in decades. Then there was the Palestinian shooting, killing four Israelis, then the settler revenge attacks. Israel carried out its first drone strike on Palestinian militants, the first of that kind in about 20 years. So clearly, there is an escalation here.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Daniel Estrin reporting from the West Bank. Daniel, thank you.

ESTRIN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Daniel Estrin is NPR's international correspondent in Jerusalem.