Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Tuesday there was still not enough evidence to try the Jewish extremists who allegedly firebombed a Palestinian home in July, killing a toddler and both his parents.
Israel has come under heavy internal and external pressure to try those responsible for the deadly arson, with rights groups questioning the delay in the case and contrasting it to the swift reaction often following Palestinian terror attacks. Israel introduced the use of administrative detention — holding suspects without trial for extended periods — against Jews for the first time in the wake of the Duma killings.
Ya’alon told Army Radio that Israel was determined to bring those responsible to trial, adding that he considered the arson “a Jewish terrorist act.”
But he also said evidence was still lacking nearly five months after the July 31 firebombing in the West Bank village of Duma despite the recent arrests of suspects in the case.
“We know who is responsible for this terrorist act, but do not have enough proof yet to try them,” he said.
On December 3, Israeli authorities said they had arrested a number of alleged Jewish extremists over the firebombing. They have not yet been publicly identified and there has been no indication they have been charged.
Israel’s high court on Sunday continued to deny lawyers’ access to three suspects, local media reported.
The Shin Bet domestic security agency can request a denial of access by lawyers for up to 21 days.
Eighteen-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha and his parents were killed in the firebombing. The couple’s then-four-year-old son was the sole survivor from the immediate family.
A Star of David and the words “revenge” and “long live the Messiah” were spray-painted on a wall near the family’s small house.
The attack drew renewed attention to Jewish extremism and accusations Israel had not done enough to prevent such violence.
Young men from wildcat settlement outposts in the West Bank and known as the “hilltop youth” have been blamed for violence and vandalism targeting Palestinians, Christian holy sites and Israeli military property.
Palestinians have often highlighted the attack and lack of progress in the case as among the causes of a wave of knife, gun and car-ramming attacks targeting Israelis that has swept Israel over the past three months. Israel has blamed the Palestinian Authority, among others, for inciting the ongoing wave of Palestinian terrorism through the relentless demonization of Israel.