CMEP Bulletin: Terror Attack on Palestinian Village
Two Palestinian homes in the West Bank village of Douma were firebombed in the pre dawn hours of July 31st. According to witnesses, two masked men spray painted “revenge” in Hebrew and then firebombed the houses before running toward the nearby settlement of Ma’aleh Ephraim. While one house was empty, the Dawabsheh family of four lived in the other. 18 month old Ali Saad Dawabsheh died in the attack.
Later that day Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded, “This is a terror attack in every respect. The State of Israel deals forcefully with terror, regardless of who the perpetrators are.” In an attempt to compare Israel’s response to the attack in Douma with that of the Palestinian Authority following terror attacks on Israeli citizens, Netanyahu said, “We deplore and condemn these murderers. We will pursue them to the end. They [Palestinians] name public squares after the murderers of children. This distinction cannot be blurred or covered up.”
Jewish Home Party leader Naftali Bennet said that although he abhorred violence and was repulsed by the acts of Jewish terrorism he would not let the entire settler population be blamed for the actions of a few. On his Facebook page Bennet posted, “Whoever wants me by his side in the fight for tolerance and human dignity — I will be the first to stand there. Whoever wants to silence my camp [settlers] — will find me in his path.”
After rebuking Netanyahu for settlement construction, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said, “Our hands are still extended in peace. If the situation continues this month, we will change our stance.” Referencing the attack in Douma Abbas asked, “How can I keep looking in the eyes of the families of martyrs killed by Jewish terrorists?” Former PA security chief, Jibril Rajoub, said PA troops are committed to preventing revenge attacks for the July 31st arson and death of Ali Saad Dawabsheh.
Israelis at a protest condemning the Douma arson attack. Rabin Square, Tel Aviv on August 1, 2015 (Baz Ratner – Reuters)
While the US, European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) all condemned the arson attack and called for a focus on peace, Jordan blamed Israel. US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, “The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms … the terrorist attack in the Palestinian village of Douma,” and urges “all sides to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this tragic incident.”
The spokesperson for EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said, “We call for full accountability, effective law enforcement and zero tolerance for settler violence. The cold-blooded killing of Palestinian toddler Ali Dawabsha, presumably by extremist settlers … highlights the urgent need for a political solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”
UN Security Council members “underlined the need to bring the perpetrators of this deplorable act to justice,” and urged “all sides to work to lower tension, reject violence, and avoid all provocations, and seek a path toward peace.”
Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed Momani said, “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.”
“Revenge” spray painted on Dawabsheh home in Douma, West Bank, July 31, 2015. (Zacahria Sadeh – Rabbis for Human Rights)
The arson attack on Palestinian homes in Douma and the resulting death of 18 month old Ali Saad Dawabsheh occurred less than two days after the demolition of two illegally built Beit El settlement buildings (see CMEP bulletin). It also follows a pattern of “Price Tag” attacks by settlers. According to Americans for Peace Now (APN), “Price Tag” is the initiative of a segment of Israeli settlers and their supporters whose “goal was and remains to deter action by the IDF and Israeli police against” illegal settler activity “by making Israeli authorities believe that the costs of such action – in terms of disruptive or violent actions by settlers – would be prohibitive.”
A year ago then-Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and then-Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich attempted but failed to obtain approval for two measures that would deal with “Price Tag” attacks; 1. Perpetrators of “Price Tag” hate crimes would be defined as members of a terrorist organization. 2. Administrative detention for prominent members of those newly defined terrorist organizations.
In the immediate aftermath of the arson attack in Douma Israeli officials used the words terror and Jewish terrorists in statements condemning the attacks. On August 1st Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon approved the use of administrative detention to hold suspects in the murder of Ali Saad Dawabsheh.