Pales­tinian tod­dler burned to death in ‘set­tler’ at­tack


A Pales­tinian tod­dler was burned to death and four fam­ily mem­bers wounded in an ar­son at­tack by sus­pected Jewish set­tlers on two homes in the oc­cu­pied West Bank on Fri­day.

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu called the fire­bomb­ing in the vil­lage of Duma near the north­ern city of Nablus “an act of ter­ror­ism in ev­ery re­spect” and or­dered se­cu­rity forces to hunt down the per­pe­tra­tors.

The at­tack fur­ther stoked ten­sions be­tween Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans, two days af­ter Ne­tanyahu con­tro­ver­sially ap­proved 300 new set­tler homes in the West Bank.

The Palestine Lib­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion said it held Ne­tanyahu’s gov­ern­ment “fully re­spon­si­ble” for the death of 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawab­sha, ar­gu­ing it was “a di­rect con­se­quence of decades of im­punity given by the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment to set­tler ter­ror­ism.”

Pales­tinian pres­i­dent Mah­mud Ab­bas called for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court in The Hague.

Ac­cord­ing to Pales­tinian se­cu­rity of­fi­cials, four as­sailants be­lieved to be Jewish set­tlers set a house on fire at the en­trance to the vil­lage and scrawled graf­fiti on a wall be­fore flee­ing to a nearby Jewish set­tle­ment.

The Is­raeli mil­i­tary and army ra­dio said two homes had been set ablaze by two masked men, and a child killed and four fam­ily mem­bers wounded. It added that the graf­fiti had been writ­ten in He­brew.

Pales­tinian sources said those wounded in­cluded the tod­dler’s par­ents — mother Re­ham, 26, and fa­ther Saad — as well as 4-yearold brother Ahmed. Is­raeli med­i­cal sources said they had been taken to hos­pi­tal.

The mother was in crit­i­cal con­di­tion with third- de­gree burns cov­er­ing 90 per­cent of her body, an Is­raeli doc­tor told public ra­dio, stress­ing that her life was threat­ened. The fa­ther had burns on 80 per­cent of his body.

The iden­tity of the fourth per­son wounded as re­ported by the mil­i­tary was not im­me­di­ately clear.

Lo­cal media re­ported that the graf­fiti said “re­venge” and “long live the Mes­siah” and that the at­tack­ers threw fire­bombs in­side the two homes, one of which was empty.

Is­raeli De­fense Min­is­ter Moshe Yaalon said such at­tacks would not be tol­er­ated, adding “we will not al­low ter­ror­ists to take the lives of Pales­tini­ans.”

The Is­raeli mil­i­tary said it was work­ing to find the per­pe­tra­tors.

Ten­sions over Set­tle­ments

Protests were ex­pected af­ter the main weekly Mus­lim prayers across the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries, with Is­lamist move­ment Ha­mas hav­ing al­ready on Thurs­day called for a “day of rage” against what it called Is­raeli ag­gres­sion.

Is­raeli author­i­ties mo­bi­lized a large de­ploy­ment in Jerusalem’s Old City around the flash­point AlAqsa mosque and barred men un­der 50 years old from en­ter­ing the com­plex. Pre­vi­ous such moves have pro­voked anger from Pales­tini­ans.

The ar­son at­tack fol­lows days of ten­sions sur­round­ing set­tle­ments in the West Bank, with rightwing groups op­pos­ing the de­mo­li­tion of two build­ings un­der con­struc­tion that the Is­raeli High Court said were illegal.

The de­mo­li­tion be­gan on Wed­nes­day, but Ne­tanyahu au­tho­rized the im­me­di­ate con­struc­tion of 300 set­tler homes in the same area the same day.

Set­tlers had clashed with po­lice when they moved in to de­mol­ish the build­ings. Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Naf­tali Ben­nett, of the right-wing Jewish Home party, had op­posed the de­mo­li­tion and ad­dressed protesters at the site.

Ne­tanyahu holds only a one-seat ma­jor­ity in par­lia­ment fol­low­ing March elec­tions and set­tler groups wield sig­nif­i­cant in­flu­ence in his gov­ern­ment.

West Bank set­tle­ments are viewed as illegal un­der in­ter­na­tional law, but not by the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment.

They are also ma­jor im­ped­i­ments to peace ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Pales­tini­ans, who see the land as part of a fu­ture in­de­pen­dent state, and Western na­tions have called on Is­rael to halt con­struc­tion.

Neigh­bor­ing Jor­dan, one of the rare Arab na­tions with diplo­matic re­la­tions with Is­rael, strongly con­demned the ar­son at­tack.

“This ugly crime could have been avoided if the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment had not ig­nored the rights of the Pales­tinian peo­ple and turned its back on peace ... in the re­gion,” gov­ern­ment spokesman Mo­hammed Momani said.

Ex­treme-right Is­raeli

ac­tivists have com­mit­ted acts of van­dal­ism and vi­o­lence against Pales­tini­ans and Arab Is­raelis for years, at­tack- ing Chris­tian and Mus­lim places of wor­ship and even Is­raeli sol­diers.

The at­tacks are known as “price tag” vi­o­lence — a eu­phemism for na­tion­al­ist-mo­ti­vated hate crimes by Jewish ex­trem­ists.


A Pales­tinian man in­spects a house af­ter it was torched in a sus­pected at­tack by Jewish set­tlers that killed an 18-month-old Pales­tinian child and in­jured his 4-year-old brother and par­ents, ac­cord­ing to a Pales­tinian of­fi­cial from the Nablus area, at Duma vil­lage near the West Bank city of Nablus, Fri­day, July 31.

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