Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday forcefully condemned the arson attack on a Palestinian family — in which an infant was burned to death — as a “horrific, heinous” crime that is “a terror attack in every respect.”
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. The infant’s parents, as well as his 4-year-old brother, were all injured and evacuated to the hospital. The mother and toddler were in critical condition.
“I am shocked by this horrific, heinous act,” said Netanyahu in a statement. “This is a terror attack in every respect. 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.”
Netanyahu offered condolences and a speedy recovery to the members of the Dawabsha family, and said the Israeli government was “unified in its fierce opposition to these awful, base acts.”
The prime minister’s remarks were echoed by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the Israel Defense Forces on Friday morning, who called it a “serious terror attack,” and by politicians from both sides of the aisle.
The IDF was also beefing up its West Bank presence in anticipation of riots. Hamas had already declared Friday a “Day of Rage” to protest the deaths of several Palestinians by Israeli forces in the past few weeks, and demonstrations were expected to escalate into violence.
“The arson and the murder of the Palestinian baby Ali Dawabsha is a serious terror attack that cannot be tolerated, and we condemn it outright,” stated Ya’alon. “We will chase down the murderers until they are caught.”
IDF Spokesman Moti Almoz commented, “I cannot recall such a serious incident in the past few years.
“It’s a crime, and we are calling it a terror attack for all intents and purposes,” he stated.
עלי סעד דוואבשה. קורבן טרור pic.twitter.com/aYPjltDMW6
— Gal Berger גל ברגר (@galberger) July 31, 2015
The IDF was sweeping the area for the perpetrators.
Thousands of troops were dispatched to the West Bank and the Temple Mount, amid fears of riots.
Condemnations from left and right
The Duma attack was denounced Friday morning by politicians from both sides of the political aisle.
Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett said the attack was not “a ‘hate crime’ or a ‘price tag’ — it’s murder.
“Terror is terror is terror,” Bennett added. “The torching of the house in Duma and the murder of the baby is a shocking terror attack that is unfathomable.”
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman condemned the “heinous act,” and urged the security forces to do their utmost to track down the killers.
Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid called it an act of war and treason. “We’re at war. He who burns a Palestinian baby declares war on the State of Israel. He who stabs young people on a Pride March declares war on the State of Israel. He who burns down a church declares war on the State of Israel. He who threatens to attack the Supreme Court with a D9 bulldozer declares war on the State of Israel. He who throws rocks at the security services declares war on the State of Israel. The members of ‘Lehava’ are traitors who assist the enemy at a time of war. The young people who attacked Arabs in Jerusalem, traitors. Anyone who chants ‘Death to the Arabs’ at a Beitar Jerusalem match, a traitor to our homeland,” Lapid said.
Lapid said his son had received an emergency IDF call up “because the enemy acted last night in Duma… This time the enemy is from here, from inside, from within us. They are a fifth column. They are the natural partners of Hamas, of Hezbollah, of ISIS. They look like us but they aren’t like us. They are traitors to all that is sacred to us, traitors to the very idea on which the State of Israel was founded, traitors to Judaism. And they’re trying – like the enemy always tries – to destroy the State of Israel… We’re at war. For the future, for Zionism, for our existence. Like in every one of Israel’s wars we cannot afford to lose.”
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog decried the “terrible tragedy” and “horrifying hate crime.
“This is terror of the worst kind,” continued Herzog, likening it to the brutal killing of East Jerusalem teenager Muhammed Abu Khdeir, 16, last summer by Jewish extremists.
The two homes — one of which belonged to the Dawabsha family, and the other, which was empty at the time — were set on fire by unidentified assailants at around 2:00 a.m. According to some reports, the fire was caused by Molotov cocktails that were thrown into the house. Others claimed the home was doused with flammable material and set alight.
The parents woke up and tried to get their children out of the house, but were unable to save their youngest son. Local residents said four men were seen fleeing the scene in the direction of the nearby Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Efraim.
The Yesha Council settler organization expressed “shock and disgust” at the attack. It said it “hopes they [the perpetrators] will be swiftly caught and punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
Dani Dayan, the former head of the Yesha Council settler organization, told Army Radio he hoped those responsible would be caught.
“Such crimes must be rooted out without hesitation,” he said. “If anyone is inciting to such crimes, they too should be thrown into jail.”