Over the weekend arsonists set ablaze the home of a high-profile Palestinian witness scheduled to testify against Israeli settlers charged with firebombing the home of his relatives in the West Bank village of Duma last summer.
Ibrahim Dawabshe, 23, and his wife were taken to a hospital in Nablus for smoke inhalation in the early morning hours Sunday, after the 1:30am attack on their home. Every room in their concrete structure was charred with black smoke, and their bedroom was significantly damaged.
Zakaria Sadeh, an investigator with Rabbis for Human Rights who was at the scene told Mondoweiss the fire started presumably after two molotov cocktails were launched through the slumbering couple’s bedroom window.
“They heard the glass breaking and they woke up, and you know they were married just four months before,” Sadeh said. “They found glass bottles inside the room and two guys ran away after the attack. They didn’t know who those people were, settlers or others.”
“Ibrahim he is ok now, but the wife is still in shock because she is afraid and she is still in a traumatic state until now,” Sadeh relayed of the wounded couple.
While an investigation is underway by Israeli police security service with details under a gag order, the agencies said in a statement last night, “The findings so far at the scene are not consistent with the characteristics of an intentional arson attack by Jews.”
Dawashbe is considered a lead witness in the case against the accused killers of his family and next-door-neighbors in Duma. The firebombing last summer killed 18-month old Ali Dawabshe, and later Ali’s parents Sa’ed Dawabshe and Riham Dawabshe. Ibrahim Dawabshe’s testimony will be key. He told the Guardian last year of the July 31, 2014 deadly attack that he saw “two masked men, one of them was standing by Reham looking at her, and the second was standing next to Saad, checking if they were alive or not.”
In January after claims of heel-dragging that amounted to allegations of government officials providing political cover to suspects, Israeli state prosecutors charged Amiram Ben Uliel, 21, and a 17-year old unidentified suspect with three counts of murder, attempted murder and arson. As is customary in Israel the name of the minor was withheld by police.
The trial against the accused began in February and is regarded by Palestinians as a litmus test for how Israel will deal with the growing trend of radical Israeli settlers. According to Israeli police Ben Uliel and the other defendant are members of a clandestine anti-government group that aspired to destabilize the state by using force against Palestinians, would-be hate crimes that are locally called “price tag attacks.”
The two are currently being monitored under house arrest.
The Palestinian government today decried the second arson attack on the Dawabshe family.
“We hold the Israeli Government fully responsible for the crimes in Duma,”Sa’eb Erekat, head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and chief negotiator with Israel, said in a statement.
Erekat has been particularly vocal on settler violence in recent years, and again reiterated his appeal for an international protection force to monitor setter abuses. Duma, the hometown of the Dawabshe’s, is located in Area C of the West Bank, and thus beyond the jurisdiction of Palestinian police and their protection service. The Israeli military is solely responsible for ensuring security in this region of the West Bank.
Following the attack, clashes broke out between the Israeli army and villagers from Duma. The confrontations began after Israeli police and a fire expert arrived to open an inquiry.
“I saw [Palestinian] guys throwing rocks at the army, they [the Israeli army] fired back tear gas and live-fire, although not directly at the people,” Sadeh said, adding, “I could smell the tear gas.”
Editor’s note: This article was updated to include a statement released by the Israeli police.