Mother of Palestinian child killed in arson attack dies

Friday 04/09/2015
Palestinian authorities call for three days of mourning

TEL AVIV (Palestinian Occupied Territories) - The mother of a Palestinian child killed in the July firebombing of the family's home has died from her wounds, renewing calls on Monday for Israel to crack down on Jewish extremism.
Riham Dawabsha, a teacher who turned 27 on Sunday, died overnight at a hospital in Tel Aviv, where she was being treated for severe burns she sustained in the July 31 arson attack in the West Bank village of Duma.
The attack by suspected Jewish extremists also killed her 18-month-old son, Ali Saad Dawabsha, who died on the night of the attack, and her husband, Saad, who succumbed to his wounds in early August.
Their four-year-old son Ahmed is now the only survivor from the immediate family and he continues to be treated in hospital for his burns.
The hospital as well as a family member confirmed her death, with her funeral to be held in Duma later Monday. Palestinian authorities called for three days of mourning and ordered flags to be flown at half-mast.
Thousands of mourners turned out to lay Saad Dawabsha to rest last month in an emotional ceremony that later erupted into clashes with Israeli border police.
There have been several arrests of suspected Jewish extremists since the firebombing, but none have been specifically accused of the attack, prompting critics of the Israeli government to call the moves window-dressing.
The firebombing came only hours after a stabbing attack at a Jerusalem Gay Pride march that killed a 16-year-old girl and wounded five other people.
While the attacks were not related, both have led to criticism of Israel's security forces, who have been accused of failing to tackle Jewish extremism, and sparked international condemnation of the violence.
Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said in a statement Monday that "there is a culture of hate that has been developing in Israel by supporting settlements" in the occupied West Bank.
"The assassination of the Dawabsha family reflects the clear connection between hate speech, settlement expansion and the impunity granted to Israel by the international community," he said.
Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said he was "concerned by the lack of progress in identifying and prosecuting the perpetrators of this outrage."
"The tragedy of the Dawabsha family serves as a shocking example of the destructive nature of extremism," he said.
"It is incumbent upon political, religious and community leaders to speak out and to act decisively against those who incite and perpetrate hatred on all sides."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has strongly condemned the firebombing and pledged to use all legal means to bring the attackers to justice.
He has labelled the attack "terrorism" -- a word usually used by Israelis to refer to violence by Palestinians.
The attack shared similarities with previous hate crimes known as "price-tag" attacks.
The phrase refers to extremists warning that there would be a price to pay for any action by Israeli authorities they regard as hostile to the Jewish settlement movement or to far-right religious beliefs.
Such radicals have also targeted Christians, Arab Israelis and even Israeli soldiers.
There has been speculation that the firebombing was in response to the demolition of two settlement buildings in the West Bank that had been erected without Israeli government permission.
In the wake of the attack, three alleged Jewish extremists were placed in a form of detention without trial usually used for Palestinians. Israel has also restricted the movements of another 10 people.
No one has been charged specifically with the firebombing, however.
Last month, a tent was torched and Hebrew-language graffiti sprayed in a West Bank Bedouin village in what residents and an NGO said was another suspected attack by extremists.
The village is near a wildcat Jewish settlement outpost where police detained several people in raids linked to the July firebombing, before later releasing them.
The graffiti, which read "administrative revenge", seemed to refer to the internment without charge -- known as administrative detention -- of the three suspected Jewish extremists after the arson attack.
Two alleged right-wing extremists -- 19-year-old Avi Gafni and an unidentified minor -- have been charged over the tent arson, Israeli police announced on Monday.

1