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Unidentified assailants set fire to home of 2015 Duma arson witness

March 20, 2016 9:59 A.M. (Updated: March 20, 2016 8:54 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Unidentified assailants on Saturday night set fire to a house in the village of Duma in the occupied West Bank, targeting the only witness of an arson attack that killed a Palestinian family last year.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that unidentified attackers threw Molotov cocktails at the house of Ibrahim Dawabsha at 2 a.m. and broke a window while he and his family were sleeping.

Daghlas added that Ibrahim Dawabsha was the only witness of the deadly arson attack carried out by extremist Israeli settlers on the home of Saad and Riham Dawabsha in the northern West Bank village on July 30 last year.

Ahmad Dawabsha, now 5 years old, was the only survivor of the attack, which killed both his parents, Saad and Riham, as well as his 18-month-old brother, Ali.

Security sources said Ibrahim Dawabsha’s home was only ten meters away from the house which was burned down last year.

The sources added that Ibrahim Dawabsha and his wife were transferred to the Rafidiya hospital in Nablus for medical treatment after they suffered from smoke inhalation.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said that Israeli troops and police arrived the scene and started investigating the attack, adding that "the motives behind the attack are not clear yet."

However, Daghlas said there are enough indications that the assailants were Israeli settlers. "The way they attacked, the type of fire bombs and the timing of the attack all indicate that it was Israeli settlers," he said.

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi condemned the arson attack in a statement on Sunday morning.

“This heinous crime is not an isolated incident and demonstrates that the Israeli government continues to give the illegal Jewish settlers a free hand to commit acts of violence and terror against a defenseless civilian Palestinian population,” Ashrawi said.

“Clearly, there is no rule of law in Israel and as a state, Israel is responsible for generating a culture of hate and racism that has enabled the settlers to act as terrorists.”

Ashrawi called on the international community to “act urgently and to assume its responsibilities to protect the Palestinian people and to put an end to the impunity that Israel and its settlers continue to enjoy at the expense of Palestinian lives.”

Meanwhile, senior PLO official Saeb Erekat said in a statement received by Ma'an that Israeli authorities were responsible for “these war crimes carried out by the Israeli settlers against unarmed Palestinian civilians.”

“It’s obvious that the occupation is going ahead with atrocities and attempts to appear as a victim rather than perpetrators,” Erekat said.

Locals in Duma told Ma’an clashes broke out on Sunday morning between hundreds of school children and Israeli forces in the village. At least 15 girls suffered from tear gas inhalation fired by Israeli troops, whereas an Israeli soldier was injured by a stone to the face and evacuated in an ambulance.

The attack that left young Ahmad's entire family dead in 2015 brought international outcry against Israel's failure to hold Israeli settlers and Jewish extremists accountable for attacks on Palestinians, in effect being complicit in such attacks.

Several Israelis were arrested in late 2015 over the deadly arson attack on Ahmad’s family. In January, two Israelis, one of them a minor, were charged with three counts of murder and being an accessory to murder.

Israeli leadership at the time condemned the Dawabsha attack as "terrorism," and pledged to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Israeli rights group B'Tselem slammed the reaction by Israeli officials as "empty rhetoric."

"Official condemnations of this attack are empty rhetoric as long as politicians continue their policy of avoiding enforcement of the law on Israelis who harm Palestinians, and do not deal with the public climate and the incitement which serve as backdrop to these acts," the group said at the time.

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