PA: Israel responsible for baby’s death, will take to ICC
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PA: Israel responsible for baby’s death, will take to ICC

Abbas slams 'war crime'; spokesman says Jerusalem's support for settlements drove attack

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting with the Revolutionary Council of his ruling Fatah party, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 16, 2015. (AFP/Abbas Momani)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting with the Revolutionary Council of his ruling Fatah party, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 16, 2015. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

The Palestinian Authority on Friday said it held the Israeli government responsible for the West Bank arson attack that killed a Palestinian baby. It said the killing would be prominently highlighted in the Palestinian case against Israel in the International Criminal Court.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said the Israeli government’s support for settlements drove the attack, and urged the international community to respond. Israel’s Channel 2 said Abbas termed the attack “a war crime.”

“This is a heinous crime that wouldn’t have happened if the government didn’t defend the settlers, and insisted on building in the settlements,” he said, according to Israel Radio. Rudeineh’s comments came two days after the government approved 300 housing units in the settlement of Beit El, following an uproar over the demolition of two illegal buildings there.

Rudeineh likened the attack to the killing of East Jerusalem teenager Muhammed Abu Khdeir last summer by Jewish extremists. He urged the international community to respond not merely with words, but with actions.

The killing of 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha will be one of the leading issues brought to the International Criminal Court against Israel, said Rudeineh.

Palestinian official Saeb Erekat also maintained Israel was “fully responsible.

“We hold the Israeli government fully responsible for the brutal assassination of the toddler Ali Saad Dawabsha,” Erekat said in a statement. “This is a direct consequence of decades of impunity given by the Israeli government to settler terrorism.”

Apart from the settlements, Erekat said Israeli calls to recognize Israel as a Jewish state were “incitement” against the Palestinians.

“By continuing to approve settlements and incite against Palestinian presence, including calls to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the Israeli government has paved the road for this brutal act,” he stated.

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 baby killed in the attack was named as Ali Saad Dawabsha. The infant’s parents, as well as his 4-year-old brother, were all injured and evacuated to the hospital. The mother and the young boy were in critical condition.

The burnt down home of the Dawabsha family in the Palestinian village of Duma, near Nablus, July 31, 2015 (Zacharia Sadeh/Rabbis for Human Rights)
The burned-down home of the Dawabsha family in the Palestinian village of Duma, near Nablus, July 31, 2015 (Zacharia Sadeh/Rabbis for Human Rights)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday forcefully condemned the arson attack as a “horrific, heinous” crime that is “a terror attack in every respect.”

“I am shocked by this horrific, heinous act,” said Netanyahu in a statement. “This is a terror attack in every sense of the word. The State of Israel deals forcefully with terror, regardless of who the perpetrators are.”

The prime minister said he instructed the security forces to “use all the resources at their disposal to capture the killers and bring them to justice as soon as possible.”

The prime minister’s remarks were echoed by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the IDF on Friday morning who called it a “serious terror attack,” and by politicians from both sides of the aisle.

AFP contributed to this report.

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