The killing of Ali Saad Dawabsha will not be the last
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Analysis

The killing of Ali Saad Dawabsha will not be the last

Op-Ed: Friday's murderous arson attack was not the first of its kind, as I can personally testify. And the perpetrators are confident nobody is going to stop them

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

A Palestinian man walks by a house in the Palestinian village of Duma, near Nablus, where a Palestinian infant was killed, July 31, 2015, in an arson attack, apparently by Jewish extremists. (Photo by FLASH90)
A Palestinian man walks by a house in the Palestinian village of Duma, near Nablus, where a Palestinian infant was killed, July 31, 2015, in an arson attack, apparently by Jewish extremists. (Photo by FLASH90)

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.

A man shows a picture of 18-month-old Palestinian toddler Ali Saad Dawabsha who died when his family house was set on fire by alleged Jewish extremists in the West Bank village of Duma on July 31, 2015. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)
A man shows a picture of 18-month-old Palestinian toddler Ali Saad Dawabsha who died when his family house was set on fire by alleged Jewish extremists in the West Bank village of Duma on July 31, 2015. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

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.

Unimaginable.

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.

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