Six weeks after settlers torched a Palestinian home in the West Bank hamlet of Duma killing three—Ali Dawabshe, 18-months, Sa’ad Dawabshe, 32, and Riham Dawabshe, 27—no one has been charged for the crime. Now, Israel’s defense minister says he knows who is behind the arson attack but is refusing to indict, because doing so could expose government intelligence sources.
“We know who is behind the killing of the Dawabshe family, but we will not prosecute,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Wednesday at an event for the Likud youth movement, a wing of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political party. Ya’alon went on, he feared a trial could “reveal the intelligence sources” who investigated the criminal parties.
The following day Ya’alon confirmed he knew who was responsible for the attack, when speaking to Israel’s military reporter.
”The perpetrators of the Duma attack are known to the Israeli security services and some are locked up,” AFP reported Ya’alon said after the meeting, ”We have not brought charges for the time being so as not to divulge our sources, but we are continuing our efforts to bring them to justice.”
Oddly, most leaders in the Israeli government did not respond to Ya’alon’s statement–the Duma attack is the most high profile case of settler violence against Palestinians in two decades. Even so, the revelation of heel-dragging sent shockwaves through the Joint Arab List, Israel’s third largest faction.
“Ya’alon’s statement reveals the system’s tolerant attitude towards settlers’ terror, thus authorizing the next murder. Ya’alon and the system he is heading are fully responsible for the atrocious murder of the Dawabshe family and for the ongoing settlers’ terror against Palestinians,”Knesset member Aida Touma-Sliman said yesterday.
A spokesperson for Ya’alon was reached for comment. He directed Mondoweiss to an interview the defense minister gave yesterday to the Israeli daily Walla.
“Unfortunately we are convinced that Jews did the Duma attack,” Ya’alon told Walla, painting a grave picture of the possibility of further acts of settler violence, “It’s a radical group who wants to start problems on the ground and hurt many people. It’s way beyond the price tag events that we have encountered.”
When asked directly about the three Israelis held in administrative detention, arrest without charge, Ya’alon was vague. “Let’s wait and see,” he said to Walla, adding “We have estimates about who carried out the attacks, and so we have taken steps.”
On July 31st arsonists firebombed the Dawabshe home as the family slept, burning two apartments. Eighteen-month old Ali Dawabshe died in the attack. Weeks later his father Sa’ad Dawabshe succumbed to wounds, and days ago his wife Riham died as well. Sa’ad Dawabshe was a construction worker and built homes in Israel’s West Bank settlements. Riham was a math teacher at a girls school. The family is survived by their four-year old son Ahmad Dawabshe who is hospitalized in Israel where he is being treated for second degree burns on 60% of his body.
Follwing the Duma attack Ya’alon announced Israel would employ emergency powers to detain without charge those involved in the attack. Three suspects remain in police custody, while nine were detained and later released. An additional 10 were issued restricted movement orders with some under house arrests and others barred from entering the West Bank.
Of the three imprisoned–Meir Ettinger, Evyatar Slonim and Mordechai Meir–Israel has not indicated if they are being held for the Duma attack, or involvement in related violent crimes against Palestinians.