Imagine, for a moment, what it was like for Saad and Reham Dawabsha, the father and mother of Ali, the 18-month-old baby who was murdered overnight, when they awoke to find their house on fire.
Maybe they were awakened by the smashing of the windows of their home on the outskirts of Duma. Petrol bombs were thrown inside, and the flames quickly spread.
The electricity was no longer working and Saad, according to one of his neighbors, barely managed to find and grab his other son, Ahmad, 4, and get him out of the house. Saad was already suffering from burns and smoke inhalation.
The house was quickly engulfed by flame; the neighbors could do nothing to help.
At some point, it would have registered to Saad and Reham, both of them badly burned and suffering smoke inhalation, that Ali was trapped inside and that there was no way to save him.
The three of them — father, mother and 4-year-old boy — must have watched outside in petrified agony, slipping in and out of consciousness, knowing that Ali was no longer among the living.
And so a family is destroyed. A young family. A baby. Helpless victims.
And so their assailants — their alleged Jewish assailants, who if so have stained all Jews and Judaism — cold-bloodedly kill an innocent toddler who had barely learned to stand and begin to talk.
In December 2008, I found myself caught up in a potentially similar situation — an effort by Jewish settler extremists to burn down a Palestinian home with its residents inside.
The incident took place around the time of the Israeli court-ordered evacuation of settlers from the Hebron house known as Beit Hameriva, or “house of contention,” when I was reporting for the Haaretz daily.
I saw flames rising from a distant Palestinian home in a wadi between the settlement of Kiryat Arba and Hebron. Together with the female photographer who was accompanying me, I rushed toward it.
We could hear screaming. And we could see around 100 settlers standing around the home and, to my horror, throwing stones at the Palestinians who were trying to escape from the burning building. It was an attempt at a pogrom.
I spotted two soldiers as we headed over, and asked them to intervene. They said they were responsible for an entire district and couldn’t deal with the incident.
We came closer still, and eventually, along with several other photographers, we got into the building — under a hail of stones.
Inside we found hysterical Palestinian women, and terrified men, all certain they were about to die. I remember one woman in particular, her face an expression of horror, screaming “Allahu Akbar” and pleading that we save her.
I tried to go back out and shout at the stone-throwers to stop, but they kept on throwing stones at us too. All this time, the flames were spreading.
Some of the Jewish spectators were advising the stone-throwers where to target the trapped Palestinians. They were not trying to halt the attack.
It took 20 minutes for Israeli security forces to reach the house and extricate us all.
To the best of my knowledge, nobody was ever prosecuted over this incident.
It was a narrow escape from death (to the dismay, I might add, of some people who posted comments on my article at the time indicating regret that it had ended without loss of life). The attack early Friday morning ended very differently.
We are not talking here about a tiny group of wild, deranged extremists. Rather, Jewish terrorists who heed no law, and feel empowered to do as they wish.
They are confident that the Israeli authorities will not lay hands on them. And so far, they’ve been proven right.
And no, this has nothing to do with any political stance. Early Friday morning, a family was targeted for no reason. This is a foul crime, and is regarded as a foul crime by the most of the Jewish settler population. But the silent majority has allowed these despicable people to grow and flourish. And the state has demonstrated untenable tolerance and turned a blind eye, time after time.
And this won’t be the last time that Jewish terrorists seek to murder Palestinians simply for being Palestinians.