State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller doubled down on Monday on Washington’s assertion that the incident this past Friday in the Palestinian Arab village of Burqa, in which a 19-year-old Arab was killed, is a “terrorist attack”.
On Saturday, following the shooting attack in Tel Aviv in which city patrolman Chen Amir was murdered, the State Department published two tweets in which it equated that attack and the incident in Burqa.
Asked during his daily briefing on Monday how this apparent change in rhetoric should be interpreted, Miller replied, “I think you can interpret it that we are greatly concerned about that attack. We are greatly concerned about all the attacks that we saw in Israel, in the Palestinian territories over the weekend. We strongly condemn those attacks. Our – the tweet that the – that NEA issued over the weekend made clear our position on terrorist attacks. It made clear our position on extreme settler violence.”
Miller continued, “I would note that the IDF spokesperson called the attack in Burqa ‘nationalist terrorism’ just this morning. So we have – I would add that we have also been clear that accountability and justice should be pursued with equal rigor in all cases of violent extremism, whoever the perpetrators are.”
Pressed on the decision to describe the Burqa incident a terrorist attack, he replied, “The thinking is that it was a terror attack, and we are concerned about it, and that’s why we called it that.”
“We have made quite clear our concerns, but I would note that the Government of Israel has made an arrest in this case and is seeking to hold the perpetrator accountable, and that’s an appropriate action,” added Miller.
Last Friday’s incident occurred when dozens of Palestinian Arab rioters from the village of Burqa, near Ramallah, attacked with rocks, clubs and fireworks a group of shepherds and a number of Jewish residents who came to help them. One of the Jews was seriously injured and was rushed to hospital where he underwent an operation during Shabbat.
The incident began when a Jewish shepherd from the Oz Tzion outpost was grazing his flock in the area between Oz Tzion and Burqa. Several Arabs then approached him and threatened him. At this point, the shepherd, who felt that he was in danger, called a number of other residents who came to stay near him in order to prevent a deterioration in the situation. Dozens of Arab rioters armed with clubs, fireworks and rocks then began to attack the Jewish residents in a violent and life-threatening manner.The Jewish residents called the security forces and civilian forces to help them.
The rioters shot fireworks and threw rocks at point blank range at the Jewish residents, hitting one of them in the head and seriously injuring him. With his last ounce of strength, the resident managed to defend himself by using his personal weapon, for which he has a license. A 19-year-old Palestinian Arab was shot as a result, according to Palestinian Arab reports.