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Duma leader accuses PA of inaction after latest arson attack

March 20, 2016 5:07 P.M. (Updated: March 21, 2016 11:43 A.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- The council leader of the village of Duma in the occupied West Bank has accused the Palestinian Authority of negligence in the months prior to an arson attack on a home in the village on Saturday night.

Unidentified assailants set fire to a house in Duma at 2 a.m., targeting the only witness of an arson attack that killed a Palestinian family last year. Ibrahim Dawabsha and his wife were hospitalized after they suffered from smoke inhalation due to the Molotov cocktails thrown at their home.

Although the identities of the arsonists was as of yet unknown, Palestinian officials have condemned the attack and accused Israel of cultivating a culture of impunity by rarely investigating and prosecuting acts of violence by Israeli settlers in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.

Speaking to Ma’an on Sunday hours after the attack, Abd al-Salam Dawabsha said Palestinian authorities hadn’t provided aid requested by Duma’s local council to organize local night watchmen to guard the village.

Duma made international headlines after extremist Israeli settlers set fire to a house in the 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 Dawabsha, as well as his 18-month-old brother, Ali.

Nearly 90 Palestinian villages in the West Bank currently implement nightly patrols. Autonomous from the government and unarmed, the groups form an organized system of self-protection against settler attacks that Israeli authorities are complicit in and the PA has no jurisdiction to prevent.

The formation of now long-running night guard systems in villages and towns across the West Bank marks the inability of the PA to provide security to Palestinians, that analysts say the PA from its inception was never intended to give.

Abd al-Salam Dawabsha said Duma’s council had sent an official letter to the PLO Commission Against the Wall and Settlements asking for a monthly budget of 20,000 shekels ($5,186) to hire seven to 10 watchmen, as well as equipment.

However, “nothing has arrived so far and I don’t think we have been asking too much” for a village facing settler attacks on a nearly daily basis, the council leader said, adding that a suggestion by the Duma council to have some young men from the village work with PA security services was “turned down.”

Commission Against the Wall and Settlements head Walid Assaf said the remarks were inaccurate, and that equipment had been provided through the Fatah political party across the West Bank.

“We provided winter jackets for the watchmen, as well as flashlights and prepaid mobile phone cards in 100 locations suffering from settler attacks through Fatah movement’s branches,” Assaf said.

“I don’t know how the supplies were delivered, but I know they were delivered to the Fatah movement. Nobody has contacted me to tell that the supplies were not received,” he added, noting that his commission’s budget was limited and couldn’t afford to employ or pay for watchmen.

The most recent wave of unrest that spread across the occupied Palestinian territory in October ushered along with it a tide of renewed criticism of the PA and its security forces, which many see as working in line with Israel’s interests rather than those of the Palestinian people.

Over 500,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law, with recent announcements of settlement expansion provoking condemnation from the international community.

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