Police and Shin Bet security service agents recently arrested multiple Jewish terror suspects who may have been involved in the fatal firebombing of the Dawabsha family home in the Palestinian village of Duma, officials said Thursday.
The authorities said in a statement that investigators were checking “concrete suspicions” that they were involved in the deadly July attack.
Suspected Jewish extremists torched the Dawabsha home on July 31 while the family slept inside. Ali Dawabsha, the family’s 18-month old son, died in the attack; his parents, Saad and Riham, succumbed to their injuries in Israeli hospitals in the aftermath of the attack.
Details of the investigation, including the identities of the suspects, remained under a gag order, the police said in a statement.
The arrests took place “over the past few days,” they said without providing additional details.
In recent days, Israeli media outlets have reported on developments in a case involving Jewish terror, though details of the case remained under wraps.
Israeli officials have been criticized for failing to collar any suspects in the deadly attack, which drew local and international condemnation, with some alleging a double standard in the state’s handling of cases involving Jewish and Palestinian terror.
Hay Heber, an attorney with the right wing legal aid group Honenu who represents some of the arrested suspects, told The Times of Israel that police were grasping at straws and had no real evidence.
“There’s some panic by the investigators that they don’t have anything, so all they can do is to impose difficulties on this group of people in the hope that one of them will ‘break’ and admit to something that he didn’t do.”
He said in a statement that one client was detained by police for eight days without having access to his lawyer or family or being brought before a judge.
“I’m certain that as the picture grows clearer it will be understood that announcements by the investigating authorities on progress in the investigation… are baseless and unfounded,” he said.
Adi Keidar, another attorney representing the suspects, charged that the Israeli authorities committed “violations of the law and human rights of the first order.”
Hussein Dawabsha, grandfather of the surviving Dawabsha son, responded to the news of the arrests saying he hopes the authorities “will punish them in the most severe manner possible.”
“It won’t return my family to me, but I hope that those murderers look little Ahmed in the eye and see what they did to him, how they killed his family,” Ynet quoted him saying.
The wake of the attack brought a crackdown on Jewish extremists in the West Bank, known as Hilltop Youth, and the use of administrative detention, in which suspects are arrested and held without charge, against Jewish terror suspects.
One of those arrested and held was Meir Ettinger, grandson of late extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, though it’s not clear if he is linked to the Duma attack.
On Wednesday the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process called on Israel’s law enforcement agencies to increase efforts to conclude their investigation into the Duma terror attack.
“Four months have passed since the arson attack against the Dawabsha family in the village of Duma in the occupied West Bank,” said the statement from the office of Nickolay Mladenov.
The “brutal killing” of Ali and his parents was “a tragedy that has angered Palestinians and shocked Israelis,” the statement said.
Mladenov said he was “concerned” by the “slow progress” of the investigation, and called on Israeli authorities “to move swiftly in bringing the perpetrators of this terrible crime to justice.”