Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday held briefings with top security officials on the deadly arson attack in the West Bank, ordering that the Palestinian Authority be updated on Israeli efforts to hunt down the killers.
The prime minister urged the swift capture of the perpetrators, apparently Jewish extremists.
The PA said earlier that it holds the Israeli government responsible for the attack in the West Bank village of Duma, in which a Palestinian baby was burned to death. Netanyahu has condemned the attack as a “horrific, heinous” crime that is “a terror attack in every respect.”
Netanyahu spoke with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, and IDF Civil Administration head Yoav Mordechai, a statement from his office said.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu was updated that extensive searches are being carried out in the area, backed by vigorous intelligence efforts,” it said. “Prime Minister Netanyahu asked that the PA be updated on these efforts.”
Two homes in the Palestinian village of Duma, south of Nablus, were set alight, and the Hebrew words “Revenge” and “Long live the king messiah” were spray-painted on their walls, alongside a Star of David, overnight Thursday-Friday, apparently by Jewish extremists.
The child killed in the attack, Ali Saad Dawabsha, was 18 months old. His parents, as well as his 4-year-old brother, were injured and evacuated to a hospital in central Israel. The mother and brother were said to be in critical condition.
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Seeking to prevent riots in the West Bank, the Israel Defense Forces bolstered its troops. An additional four battalions were called in to assist in the search, according to the IDF.
Hamas had called a “Day of Rage” Friday in the West Bank, following the deaths of three Palestinians in recent weeks by Israeli troops. The fatal arson attack was expected to further stoke tensions, and the army was gearing up for altercations with Palestinians.
The army was on particular alert ahead of the slain baby’s funeral, which was set to begin late morning in the West Bank.
Meanwhile, Israeli police said they would restrict entrance to Friday prayers at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, permitting only male worshipers over the age of 50. There were no restrictions on women. Police said the decision was not necessarily related to the West Bank incident and comes as police received word that Palestinian youth at the mosque planned to cause disturbances.
AP, Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.