DUMA: The father of a Palestinian toddler killed when their home was firebombed by Jewish extremists last week died yesterday from injuries he suffered in the attack, prompting a Hamas call for “confrontation”. The July 31 attack in the village of Duma led to angry Palestinian protests and an international outcry over Israel’s failure to curb violence by hardline Jewish settlers. Saad Dawabsha died in hospital in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba where he was being treated for third-degree burns for the past eight days, Palestinian official Ghassan Daghlas said.
The head of the hospital’s intensive care unit said his prospects had been slim from the outset. “He arrived early Friday a week ago by helicopter in very bad condition, critical,” Motti Klein told Israeli public radio. “With burns covering 80 percent of the body, chances of survival are very, very slim, almost zero,” he said. “He underwent a number of skin grafts but, despite everything, his vital systems collapsed.”
Dawabsha’s wife Riham and four-year-old son Ahmed are still fighting for their lives in another Israeli hospital, near Tel Aviv, after the attack that killed 18-month-old Ali. However, a doctor said Ahmed was showing some encouraging signs. “He is conscious at the moment, communicating with relatives,” Marina Rubinstein told the radio. “Yesterday he was licking ice lollies and was pleased with that. His condition is still serious,” she added. “He faces a large number of operations and a very long period of hospitalization.”
The Dawabsha family’s small brick and cement home was gutted by the fire, and a Jewish Star of David spray-painted on a wall along with the words “revenge” and “long live the Messiah”. “Nothing will stop these murderous settler attacks and… we cannot wait until they come into our villages and our homes,” Hossam Badran, spokesman of the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas, wrote on Facebook from his base in Qatar yesterday. “Our people in the West Bank have only one choice: That of open and comprehensive confrontation against the occupation.”
Israeli media reported that the army was on alert for possible unrest in the occupied territory and for “Palestinian revenge attacks”. The United Nations has called for restraint. “Political, community and religious leaders on all sides should work together and not allow extremists to escalate the situation and take control of the political agenda,” wrote UN peace coordinator Nickolay Mladenov. “I reiterate the secretary general’s call for the perpetrators of this heinous terrorist act, which was universally condemned, to be brought swiftly to justice,” he added.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the attack as “terrorism in every respect”, and vowed to spare no effort in catching those responsible. He ordered a crackdown on Jewish extremism that has seen three people detained, but no one has so far been accused of carrying out the firebombing. As Saad Dawabsha was buried in Duma yesterday afternoon, a family friend said Israeli authorities were complicit in such violence. “It’s a crime committed by the settlers but with the agreement of the occupation,” Anwar Dawabsha told AFP. “It isn’t possible that Israel with all its army and its intelligence services still has no information on this attack,” he said. Several thousand mourners turned out to lay Dawabsha to rest, many carrying Palestinian flags, others with portraits of little Ali and the rest of the family.
Earlier an autopsy was performed on the body at An-Najah University Hospital in the nearby city of Nablus. A Palestinian official told AFP the pathologist’s report would be submitted in evidence to back up a complaint to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. On Monday, the Palestinians submitted a request to the ICC to probe the firebombing and “settler terrorism”. At a meeting with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas Wednesday, Arab foreign ministers agreed to call on the UN to protect the Palestinians from “terrorist crimes” by Jewish settlers. Israel this week used a controversial form of detention without trial normally invoked for Palestinians against an alleged Jewish extremist, following the outcry over the firebombing. – AFP