Israeli minister Bezalel Smotrich says Palestinian town targeted by rioters should be 'wiped out'
Israel's finance minister has said that the West Bank town of Huwara should be "wiped out".
Asked on stage at a business conference why he liked a tweet earlier in the week that called for the Palestinian village to be destroyed, Bezalel Smotrich responded: "Because I think the village of Huwara needs to be wiped out.
"I think the State of Israel should do it, not, God forbid, private individuals."
Mr Smotrich, a controversial far-right politician, is one of the most senior members of Benjamin Netanyahu's government - as well as finance minister he is also a minister in the defence ministry and in charge of civilian affairs in the West Bank.
His words have been criticised by the former prime minister Yair Lapid as "incitement to war crimes".
In response, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said "I want to be very clear about this. - these comments were irresponsible. They were repugnant. They were disgusting. And just as we condemn Palestinian incitement to violence, we condemn these provocative remarks that also amounts to incitement to violence."
Huwara was the scene of heavy rioting on Sunday night as hundreds of Israeli settlers carried out revenge attacks after two Jewish men were murdered there earlier in the day.
Cars and homes were burnt, and one Palestinian killed during the rampage.
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The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) commander in charge of the area, Major General Yehuda Fuchs, has since admitted his forces were taken by surprise and described the settler violence as a "pogrom".
There has been widespread international condemnation of the rioting and many moderate Israelis have also spoken out against it.
Protesters demonstrating against the government in Tel Aviv on Wednesday confronted police and asked where they were while the rioting was happening in Huwara on Sunday and an online crowd-funding site has raised more than £300,000 for the victims.
On Wednesday, Israeli police also arrested a further six settlers suspected of being involved in the weekend's violence. One has since been released.
Separately, Israeli forces say they have captured the gunmen suspected of killing an Israeli-American man in the West Bank on Monday.
IDF forces raided a refugee camp on the outskirts of Jericho on Wednesday afternoon and detained three people - two surrendered and a third was shot while trying to escape. He later died.
The operation was carried out as the victim, 26-year-old Elan Ganeles, was being buried in the central Israeli city of Ra'anna.