An Israeli campaign raises money for a Palestinian town under the torch

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YOKNEAM, Israel – An Israeli-led crowdfunding campaign has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Palestinian residents of a West Bank town that was set on fire by radical Jewish settlers, the drive’s organizer said. Thursday.

About 12,000 Israelis donated nearly 1.7 million shekels (465,000 dollars) since the campaign was launched this week. The fundraising effort was a rare example of cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians at a time when tensions have been rising between the sides over spiraling violence.

Dozens of Israeli settlers went on a violent rampage in the West Bank town of Hawara late Sunday, setting dozens of cars and homes on fire after two settlers were killed by a Palestinian gun there earlier in the day. One Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire during the incident, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

The rampage, the worst such violence in decades, prompted Israeli activist Yaya Fink, a sensitive Jew, to launch the fundraising campaign.

“I had very bad feelings when I saw hundreds of religious Jews trying to burn Hawara, including innocent people,” he said, adding that he conveyed a message that “the majority of Jews against terrorism, against racism.” He said most of the money was raised within the first 12 hours of the campaign.

Fink said the money will be sent as compensation to Palestinians whose property was damaged in the attack. He said he received threats from the campaign’s opponents, who called him a traitor for raising money for the Palestinians, even though some are carrying out attacks.

The ramp sparked international criticism. But the Israeli government, which is made up of ultranationalists who wanted to settle, did not express much anger and only asked the perpetrators not to take the law into their own hands.

However, some lawmakers went even further, including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who said Hawara should be “erased” – but by state authorities and not by private citizens. He later revisited these ideas.

Major General Yehuda Fuchs, head of the army’s Central Command in charge of the West Bank, said this week that the army was not prepared for the intensity of the Hawara violence, which he called “a pogrom done fraudulently.” He was using a term that usually refers to mob attacks against Jews in Eastern Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

More than 60 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire this year, about half of them terrorists, according to an estimate from The Associated Press. Palestinian attacks against Israelis have killed 14 Israelis at the same time. It has been one of the deadliest times between Israelis and Palestinians in years.

Scharf reported from Jerusalem.

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