Hundreds of mourners from the northern West Bank poured into the hamlet of Duma to lay to rest a second Palestinian who had succumbed to wounds from a settler arson attack last week. Sa’ad Dawabshe, father of baby Ali Dawabshe who burned to death in the attack, died in the early morning hours in a hospital in southern Israel where he was being treated. His remains were transferred to his parents’ home outside of Nablus.
Seated in her courtyard around dozens of relatives, Dawabshe’s mother wept as she clutched a white tissue cloth. Her son’s body was ceremoniously displayed in front of her atop a low table draped in the Palestinian flag. Journalists clamored around her for photographs and interviews under the canopied patio.
Amid the summer heat wave two relatives fainted while overcome with grief, causing a stir from aiding family members who themselves were also sobbing.
“Killing women, children, the elderly,” said Maitha Selman, 60, an aunt of Dawabshe who stood in the courtyard, “it is not allowed in monotheistic religions. It’s sinful.”
“They say we the Palestinian are terrorists, but no, they—the Israelis—are the terrorists,” Selman continued.
Dawabshe’s remains were then hoisted through the town to the village cemetery, followed by chants of “strike, strike Tel Aviv,” shouted by Palestinians who marched behind Dawabshe’s shrouded body, singing out a protest anthem that was popularized during the last two wars in Gaza.
Mourners from villages throughout the Nablus region joined the bereaved—first lining up at their towns’ entrances in shoulder lanes of a main Israeli highway in the West Bank, and then they caravanned to the funeral. During the funeral ceremony some called for “revenge,” appealing for al-Qassam brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, to retaliate. They brought flags representing a spectrum of Palestinian political factions: Fatah, Hamas, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Popular Arab Front, and Islamic Jihad.
“I came because he is my brother. He is Palestinian and I am Palestinian, Nour Salam, 21, said, a Palestinians from the nearby village of Talfeet. Salam was draped in a black and white Islamic Jihad flag and emphasized he felt settler attacks against Palestinians would not stop until Palestinians have freedom. For Salam, his plight is simple: he wishes for life in the West Bank to resemble the quality it held before the Israeli occupation of the territory occupied in the June 1967 war. Yet Salam lamented, daily life under occupation had crushed his spirit for a brighter future. He does not believe he will live to see Palestinians free from Israeli control.
“It’s impossible. Every day settlers kill people, and every day the army kills people,” Salam said.
The past two years have marked a sharp increase in settler violence against Palestinians. Attacks, which include arson, beating and destruction of Palestinian agricultural fields, skyrocketed from 93 incidents in 2012 to 963 incidents in 2013, and 1011 incidents in 2014, according to data complied by the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s monitoring group. Israeli human rights group note there were 8 arson attacks against Palestinians in 2014.
Since January 2014, Palestinians killed 16 Israeli civilians in the West Bank and Israel. In that same period seven Palestinians were killed in nationalist attacks by Israeli citizens, and 58 killed by Israeli security forces, according to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem.