Palestinians bury baby killed in West Bank arson attack

Hundreds of mourners attend funeral of 18-month old Ali Saad Dawabsheh, as teen shot dead in clashes following attack.

Hundreds of mourners have attended the funeral of the 18-month old Palestinian baby, killed in an arson attack  in the occupied West Bank, as Palestinian leaders condemned Israel’s policy on settlements and dubbed the attack as “war crimes”.

Family members buried Ali Saad Dawabsheh on Friday afternoon, as his four-year-old brother and their parents, both in extremely critical condition for major burns, are being treated at an Israeli hospital.

Settler violence against Palestinians ‘not an isolated case’

In clashes that followed the youngster’s death, Palestinians said a 14-year-old named Laith Khaldi was wounded by live fire north of Ramallah and died hours later in hospital.

The Israeli army said Khaldi was shot after throwing a Molotov cocktail at forces at a checkpoint. 

Also on Friday, a Palestinian man was killed and another wounded by Israeli fire when they approached a security fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel, medical officials said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyuhu’s settlement policy is to be blamed for the attacks in the West Bank.  

RELATED: Anger, grief as arson blamed on Israeli settlers kills West Bank infant

“When the Israeli government encourages settlements everywhere, they’re also encouraging these thugs to carry out these attacks. This is a war crime and a tragedy for all of us.”

“If the Israeli government and the Israeli army wanted to prevent the crime, they could have stopped the terrorists but they chose not to.”

The Hamas government in Gaza has also condemned the latest incident, and called for “a day of fury in response to the relentless Zionist assaults on Jerusalem and the murder of toddler Ali in Nablus.” 

When the Israeli government encourages settlements everywhere, they’re also encouraging these thugs to carry out these attacks. This is a war crime and a tragedy for all of us.

Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president

According to the UN, there had been at least 120 attacks by Israeli settlers since the beginning of 2015. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a rare telephone call to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, condemning the murder of the toddler and pledging a thorough investigation.

“We must fight terrorism together, regardless of which side it comes from,” he added.

Netanyahu further told Abbas he had ordered the Israeli security forces to “use all measures to locate the murderers”.

After speaking with Abbas, Netanyahu visited the Israeli hospital where the mother and brother of Dawabsheh were being treated for severe burns.

The Israel army issued a statement saying that they were trying to locate the suspects in the attack.

“This attack against civilians is nothing short of a barbaric act of terrorism. A comprehensive investigation is under way in order to find the terrorists and bring them to justice,” Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said in the statement. 

“The [Israeli army] strongly condemns this deplorable attack and has heightened its efforts in the field to locate those responsible.”

The army told Al Jazeera that additional forces were deployed to West Bank, refusing to specify the number of soldiers.

Related story: Autopsy shows Palestinian teen ‘burned alive’

Mark Regev, a spokesman of Netanyahu, said the government of Israel “unequivocally condemns this heinous crime, this act of terrorism”.

“We will fight terrorism. We will defeat terrorism no matter who the perpetrators are.”

Palestinian reaction

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Sami Ershied, lawyer and human rights activist, said while Israel condemned the attack, the government of Netanyahu continues to justify the settlement activities in the West Bank. 

“This crime was done against the Palestinian people.”

Nabil Abu Rdeineh, a spokesman for Abbas, said earlier on Friday that the Israeli government was fully responsible for the crime as it continued to support illegal Israeli settlement activities and the protection of settlers.

He also blamed the international community for silence over crimes against Palestinians.

Two Palestinian houses were burned at the entrance of the village with graffiti left on the walls, reading in Hebrew “revenge” and “long live Messiah”.

Witnesses told Al Jazeera that they saw at least two settlers running away from the scene.

Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the European Union envoy to Israel also reacted on Twitter.

There are at least three illegal Israeli settlements near Duma village south of Nablus.

A recent report by Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organisation, showed that more than 92.6 percent of complaints Palestinians lodge with the Israeli police go without charges being filed.

A Palestinian man stands infront of the fire damage to his son’s house with graffiti reading in Hebrew ‘revenge’ in the West Bank [EPA]
Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops in the West Bank on Friday following the funeral of  Ali Saad Dawabsheh [Reuters]
Source: Al Jazeera


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