A Palestinian toddler was burned to death and four family members wounded in an arson attack by suspected Jewish settlers on two homes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Friday.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to hide the fact that this type of barbaric behavior is supported and endorsed by government by calling it “an act of terrorism in every respect”. The truth is, this savage act took place just two days after Netanyahu controversially approved 300 new settler homes in the West Bank.
The Palestine Liberation Organisation said it held Netanyahu’s government “fully responsible” for the death of 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha, arguing it was “a direct consequence of decades of impunity given by the Israeli government to settler terrorism”.
“This ugly crime could have been avoided if the Israeli government had not ignored the rights of the Palestinian people and turned its back on peace… in the region,” government spokesman Mohammed Momani said.
Extreme-right Israeli activists have committed acts of vandalism and violence against Palestinians and Arab Israelis for years, attacking Christian and Muslim places of worship and even Israeli soldiers.
Such attacks rarely lead to convictions.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called for an investigation by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, while hundreds of Palestinians protested after leaving mosques following the main weekly prayers, with reports of sporadic clashes.
Israeli troops shot and wounded one protester in the “lower extremities” during clashes in the city of Hebron, the army said.
Several thousand people also took to the streets in Duma for the funeral of the toddler, whose body was wrapped in a Palestinian flag.
The family’s small home of brick and concrete was blackened and gutted by fire, a Star of David along with “revenge” and “long live the Messiah” spray-painted in Hebrew.
According to Palestinian security officials, four assailants believed to be settlers set the house on fire before dawn at the entrance to the village and scrawled the graffiti before fleeing to a nearby Jewish settlement.
The Israeli military and army radio said two homes had been set ablaze by two masked men, with the child killed and four family members wounded.
Palestinian sources said those wounded included the toddler’s parents — mother Riham, 26, and father Saad — as well as four-year-old brother Ahmed.
The mother was in critical condition with third-degree burns covering 90 percent of her body, an Israeli doctor told public radio.
The father had burns on 80 percent of his body and the son 60 percent, with all of their lives in danger.
The identity of the fourth person wounded as reported by the military was not immediately clear. Local media said one of the two homes set ablaze was empty.
Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said such attacks would not be tolerated, adding “we will not allow terrorists to take the lives of Palestinians.”
With the country’s leaders seeking to calm tensions, President Reuven Rivlin was planning to visit the victims in hospital later in the day.