Palestinian Baby Ali Saad Dawabsheh Burned to Death in Jewish Settler Attack
A Palestinian toddler was burned to death when Jewish settlers set fire to his family’s home in the illegally-occupied West Bank early Friday morning.
Ali Saad Dawabsheh, who was 18 months old, died in an apparent ‘price tag’ arson attack targeting his home in the village of Duma, south of Nablus, which has been illegally occupied by Israeli military forces for nearly half a century. His parents and 4-year-old brother were also seriously injured, suffering burns to up to 75 percent of their bodies, Al Jazeera reports.
Two Palestinian homes on the edge of the village were targeted by the arsonists, with Hebrew graffiti reading “price tag,” “revenge,” “long live Messiah” and a Star of David scrawled on the walls of the burned dwellings. Witnesses told various news agencies that they saw multiple settlers fleeing the scene of the attack. There are at least three illegal Jewish settler colonies near Duma.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attack “reprehensible and horrific.”
“This is an act of terrorism in every respect,” he tweeted. “The State of Israel takes a strong line against terrorism regardless of the perpetrators.”
The BBC reports Netanyahu phoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to condemn the attack and offer his condolences, telling him Israeli security forces had been ordered to “use all means to find the murderers.”
But the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) blamed the Israeli government for the attack.
“This is a direct consequence of decades of impunity given by the Israeli government to settler terrorism,” it tweeted.
“Every day we wake up to a similar crime,” Abbas said, calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the attack as a war crime. “This is a war crime and a tragedy at the same time. Therefore we will not stay still. Absolutely not. As long as the settlement and the occupation are there.”
“We cannot separate the barbaric attack that took place in Duma last night from the recent settlement approvals by the Israeli government, a government which represents an Israeli national coalition for settlements and Apartheid,” Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement. “By continuing to approve settlements and incite against Palestinian presence, including calls to recognize Israel as a Jewish State, the Israeli government has paved the road for this brutal act.”
Earlier this week, Netanyahu announced the “immediate construction” of 300 new settler homes in Beit El in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli leader also said more than 500 new settler homes had been approved in annexed East Jerusalem.
According to the United Nations, there have been at least 120 attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank so far this year. The Israeli human rights group Yesh Din recently issued a report claiming that more than 92 percent of complaints filed by Palestinians go without charges being filed.
‘Price tag’ attacks, defined by the United States government as “property crimes and violent acts by extremist Jewish individuals and groups in retaliation for activity they deemed to be anti-settlement,” are mentioned in the State Department’s annual global terrorism report.
“Attacks by extremist Israeli settlers against Palestinian residents, property and places of worship in the West Bank continued and were largely unprosecuted,” last year’s report states. “The UN… reported 399 attacks by extremist Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage (in 2013).”
Some 500,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements constructed on Palestinian land seized by Israel during a 1967 war. These colonies, which are often connected to each other by Jewish-only roads, are illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this. Palestinian and international human rights groups, as well as prominent international figures including Nobel peace laureates Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire and others, have called Israel’s settlement and occupation activities “apartheid,” with some critics going as far as accusing Israeli of ethnic cleansing.”
The European Union has considered sanctioning Israel over settlements, and successive US administrations have demanded an end to their construction, but unconditional American military aid totaling around $3 billion annually continues to fund Israel’s occupation activities.