Palestinian toddler killed, four injured by Israeli settlers in arson attack

Published July 31st, 2015 - 07:14 GMT

Israeli settlers killed a Palestinian toddler and injured four others early Friday morning after setting their home ablaze near Nablus in the occupied West Bank in what the Israeli leadership called an act of terrorism. 

Israeli settlers smashed the windows of two homes in the Palestinian village of Doma before throwing flammable liquids and Molotov cocktails inside, a local resident told Ma'an.

Ali Saad Dawabsha, one-and-a-half years old, was trapped in the house and died shortly after sustaining serious burns, said Ghassan Daghlas, a local official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank.

His mother and father, Riham and Saad, and their son Ahmad, 4, also sustained injuries and were evacuated to a nearby hospital, Daghlas said, adding that their home was left completely burned.

The Israeli settlers from nearby settlements also attacked and partially burned the home belonging to Maamoon Rashid Dawabsha, spraying racist graffiti in Hebrew across both homes, Daghlas added, giving no information on the fourth victim. 

The homes were located near the main entrance to the village and the settlers were able to flee the scene quickly before residents identified them, Daghlas said.

Dozens of villagers from Doma rushed to help rescue the two families from their burning homes, witnesses said. The injured were later taken to Israeli hospitals for treatment via a military helicopter.
 
Musallem Dawabsha, 23, told Ma'an: "We saw four settlers running away keeping distance between each other. We tried to chase them but they fled to the nearby Maale Efrayim settlement."
 
The Israeli army confirmed the attack in a statement and said a search was underway for the suspects.
 
'Barbaric act'
 
Israeli army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner condemned the attack, saying: “This attack against civilians is nothing short of a barbaric act of terrorism."

"A comprehensive investigation is underway in order to find the terrorists and bring them to justice. The IDF strongly condemns this deplorable attack and has heightened its efforts in the field to locate those responsible," Lerner added.
 
Meanwhile Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett -- a staunch supporter of settlement expansion in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank -- condemned the attack as "criminal" on his Twitter account, writing, "Terrorism is terrorism is terrorism."

Israeli settlers have carried out at least 120 attacks on Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the start of 2015, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
 
Attacks by settlers are often carried out under the armed protection of Israeli forces and rights groups argue Israeli authorities rarely make efforts to protect Palestinians from such attacks.

"The undeclared policy of the Israeli authorities in response to these attacks is lenient and conciliatory," according to Israeli rights group B'Tselem.

"Perpetrators are rarely tried, and many cases are not investigated at all or are closed with no operative conclusions."

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 kicking off condemnation from the international community.

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