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Settlers target Palestinian home in suspected revenge attack

Dec. 22, 2015 10:10 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 23, 2015 3:09 P.M.)
Home of the Palestinian al-Najjar family on Dec. 22, 2015. (Photo credit: Israeli media)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Suspected Israeli settlers early Tuesday attacked a Palestinian home in a Ramallah-area village in the occupied West Bank in what appeared to be a revenge attack for the arrest of Jewish extremists who carried out a deadly attack last summer.

Hussein al-Najjar, 30, told Ma'an that settlers arrived to his home in the village of Beitillu around 1:30 a.m. and vandalized the exterior walls of the house before smashing in a window and throwing three tear gas bombs inside.

Al-Najjar said that he and his wife as well as their 9-month-old son Karam suffered from severe tear gas inhalation.

"The family survived death thanks to the intervention of neighbors who broke open the main door and evacuated the family, who were found unconscious," al-Najjar told Ma'an.

The phrases “revenge” and “hello from the detainees of Zion” were spray-painted in Hebrew on the side of the home according to photos released by Israeli media of the scene.

Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that Israeli police were alerted of the incident by their Palestinian counterparts and referred to the attack as a "suspected nationally-motivated crime.”

Israeli police and army officers arrived to the scene and had begun investigations, al-Samri added.

Initial reports said that "smoke grenades" had been thrown into the home, but the spokesperson later clarified that tear gas bombs had been used.

Israeli settlers regularly carry out so-called price-tag attacks on Palestinians and their property, purportedly in revenge for actions taken by Palestinians or the Israeli government against the illegal settlement enterprise.

The attacks -- over 220 of which have been carried out in 2015 -- were labelled as “acts of terrorism” by the US government in 2013.

Israeli media has alleged that the graffiti in Tuesday’s attack referred to suspects belonging to a Jewish terror organization who on July 31 carried out an arson attack on a Palestinian home in Duma near Nablus.

The attack killed three members of the Dawabsha family, including an 18-month-old and his parents.

While the majority of information regarding the investigation remains under a gag-order by Israeli police, news broke on Dec. 3 that several youths connected to a Jewish extremist organization were arrested in November and held under administrative detention.

Last week right-wing Israeli groups lashed out at Shin Bet after accusations that the Israeli domestic security agency used torture on the suspects during interrogation.

In response, the agency cautioned against “a proactive and ongoing effort to slander the organization and its work, and to disrupt its activities” in investigating the deadly attack.

Israel has received criticism from the international community and rights groups regarding government policies that allow Israeli settlers to attack Palestinians with total immunity, and the case of the Dawabsha murders have been followed closely.

In discussing the investigation, Shin Bet said in a statement Friday that activity by a Jewish terror organization had “contributed to instability in the region,” warning against the potential danger of growing influence of the group against the Israeli government.

PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi last week denounced foot-dragging by Israel to prosecute the suspects responsible for the Dawabsha arson attack as effectively condoning violent behavior of Israeli settlers and extremists.

“When it comes to Jewish criminality or terrorism against Palestinian victims, the legal system in Israel seems to fall apart,” the PLO official said in a statement.

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