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Palestinians in Duma are angry that no one has been charged for murders, after 38 days

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Thousands poured into the West Bank hamlet of Duma for a third funeral over the past five weeks, this time mourning Riham Dawabshe who died Sunday on her 27th birthday from injuries sustained during a settler arson attack on her home on July 31st. Riham’s youngest son, 18-month year old Ali Dawabshe was killed in the firebombing. Her husband Sa’ad Dawabshe, 32, died a week later on the couple’s anniversary, also from wounds inflicted during the firebombing. Although the arsonists left a graffiti tag in Hebrew indicating the killings were a nationalist crime, to date Israel has not charged anyone with the murders.

The Dawabshe family’s lone survivor is four-year old Ahmad who is hospitalized in Israel for second degree burns covering 60-percent of his body. According to No one has told Ahmad both of his parents are dead.

The day after the arson attack Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared it a terrorist crime. He warned a crackdown would come for radical settlers who use violence. “The security forces are doing their utmost to apprehend the assailants and bring them to justice,” his office said today in a statement. Yet Duma’s residents doubt Netanyahu and Israel’s efforts to investigate the case or curb settler assaults.

To Haitham, Netanyahu’s words were “just a trick. It’s just for the media. But what about the truth?”

In the early days after the attack, 12 Israelis were detained, including a ringleader of settler attacks on Palestinians, Meir Ettinger, who has been known to graffiti has name next to his crime scenes. Yet most of these Israelis were let go within days. Palestinians see their release as proof that Israel is not interested in convicting settlers who harm them.

“The environment is negative, you know. We are just normal people living in our houses and terrorism came to us,” said Duma villager Haitham, 25, who asked not to be identified by his last name. Daily Haitham had visited the grieving Dawabshe’s, getting updates on Riham and Ahmad’s recovery. Duma also has a town Facebook page where Riham and Sa’ad’s brothers would posts statuses on in their heath. On Sunday one relative who had visited Riham’s bedside notified the group: an infection that started on grafted skin had spread throughout Riham’s body. Her organs were failing. A spokesperson at Tel Hashomer hospital confirmed the young mother needed several transplants to restore destroyed skin as she suffered from third degree burns on 90-percent of her body.

“I don’t know the future, but what we see right now is that it’s bad,” Haitham said, sitting on a plastic chair in front of one of the few stores open in Duma. He was quick to mention a settler torching of a Bedouin tent outside of Duma weeks ago, and underscored that the killers remain at-large. Since the settler attack, most shops in town shutter before dark. “But it’s also good,” Haitham continued, “to show the young people the situation—so they can do something for their nation.”

Haitham is part of a group of young men who spend their evenings patrolling the streets of Duma, a night guard against future ambushes. While settlers have not entered since the late July firebombing, tensions remain high and were reflected during the funeral where mourners chanted for revenge. A group of students from a nearby girl’s school where Riham taught math also demonstrated after the burial. 

Palestinian women cry during the funeral of Riham Dawabsha, the mother of a Palestinian child killed in the July firebombing of the family's home, on September 7, 2015 during her funeral at a cemetery in the West Bank village of Duma (Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP)

Palestinian women cry during the funeral of Riham Dawabsha, the mother of a Palestinian child killed in the July firebombing of the family’s home, on September 7, 2015 during her funeral at a cemetery in the West Bank village of Duma (Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP)


The violence has increased over the past few years. In both 2013 and 2014 the Palestinian government logged more than 1,000 settler acts of violence and property destruction. Of those incidents nearly 90-percent of investigations closed without indictments according to the Israeli human rights law firm Yesh Din.

The low conviction rates for settler-criminals and the limited arrests have left Duma’s residents with a belief that Israel will not prosecute the killers of the three Dawabshe’s. In turn villagers, want to take matters into their own hands.

“I hope they [settlers] come another time, to my house,” another nightwatchman, Fadi, 25, said after Riham’s funeral. Fadi also asked for his last name not to be published. He and Haitham, childhood friends and now vigilante guards, agreed they will not hold back if settlers pierce their town again (the Dawabshe home was in central Duma, miles from a main highway). “No one is scared,” Haitham said. He then exposed a switch blade tucked into the font of his pants.

Similarly, Palestinian officials do not believe Israel will fully investigate the Duma killings. In early August the Palestinian government filed a complaint against Israel with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which only has jurisdiction if Israel fails to thoroughly try the case in its domestic legal system. “We want true justice, but I doubt that Israel will provide that,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said to reporters on the afternoon his foreign minister submitted the motion.

“There is a culture of hate that has been developing in Israel by supporting settlements and Apartheid,” said PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, a vocal advocate for bringing Israel to the ICC. “The assassination of the Dawabsheh family reflects the clear connection between hate speech, settlement expansion and the impunity granted to Israel by the International community.”

Allison Deger
About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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13 Responses

  1. Qualtrough
    September 7, 2015, 10:59 pm

    Has it ever taken this long to solve any attacks on Israelis? My impression is that those are ‘solved’ rather quickly regardless of whether or not those charged are guilty or not.

    On a side note, I notice that Mondoweiss has adopted a ‘Prove Your Humanity’ security feature. A good idea, but it seems that some of the hasbara regulars here have found a way of circumventing that.

    • WH
      September 8, 2015, 2:38 am

      “My impression is that those are ‘solved’ rather quickly regardless of whether or not those charged are guilty or not. ”

      Yes – the suspects are generally shot dead at the scene of the crime, if they’re Palestinians.

  2. Kay24
    September 8, 2015, 7:12 am

    This was a heinous crime, violent, and based on hatred. It is unacceptable that to this day, the usually swift (when it comes to arresting Palestinians) Israeli forces have not apprehended the terrorists who committed this crime. It is appalling that Israel keep getting away with such horrendous crimes, always has a double standard when it comes to their own, and the whole world knows the truth and simply watches.

    It is because of American support and protection that this despicable nation keeps getting away
    with everything, and it seems always will. Israelis should not be surprised they are disliked, they keep giving reasons why, and have no one else to blame (does not stop them anyway).

    What is the point of having a UN when they cannot do anything to halt the slow genocide and theft of land by a rogue nation?

    “The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has produced a report [pdf] in which it finds that
    “Official data released by the Israeli authorities indicate that over 11,000 demolition orders – affecting an estimated 13,000 Palestinian- owned structures, including homes -are currently ‘outstanding’ in Area C of the West Bank. These orders heighten the vulnerability of thousands of poor Palestinian households, some of whom are at imminent risk of forcible displacement.”

  3. CigarGod
    September 8, 2015, 9:14 am

    When or if it is discovered they are settlers, will their homes be destroyed as the Palestinians are?

  4. John O
    John O
    September 8, 2015, 1:09 pm

    In any normal society, someone would have fingered the perpetrators of such a horrible act by now. The squatters’ silence – omerta – speaks loudly.

  5. Balfour
    September 8, 2015, 1:19 pm

    Just curious, have the Israeli authorities arrested any suspects for the arson attack committed against the Christian monastery in the Galillee region earlier this year? Or, where suspects arrested, then let go for “lack of evidence”- many arson crimes committed against non Jewish individuals living in areas controlled by Israel seem to follow this pattern of investigation.

  6. oldgeezer
    September 8, 2015, 3:03 pm

    Business as usual in the racist apartheid state.

    By now they would have killed a few thousand Palestinians if the shoe had been on the other foot.

  7. diasp0ra
    September 8, 2015, 3:23 pm

    Hey remember what happened in the aftermath of the Itamar killings?

    They put an entire suspected village under martial law and interrogated families house by house until they found who they claimed were responsible.

    But those darned settlers must be like the pink panther, they never leave behind any form of evidence. Never mind the fact that these people call for our extermination publicly and in their groups.

    • oldgeezer
      September 8, 2015, 3:29 pm

      The idf terrorists assigned to protect the illegal squatters must be asleep on the job too in order to not see the attackers leave and return. Well…. Assuming they haven’t tagged along in order to protect the israeli terrorists during the attack

  8. just
    September 8, 2015, 6:49 pm

    “Shame on Shin Bet: Almost 6 Weeks Pass and Baby Killers Still Walking Free

    Almost six weeks have passed since the murderous attack on the Dawabsheh family’s home in the West Bank village of Duma, yet as far as is known Israel’s security agencies still don’t have a clue about who perpetrated it. This is an unreasonable and intolerable situation. The more time passes, the greater the suspicion grows that the security agencies, first and foremost the Shin Bet security service, aren’t doing enough to capture the murderers. The killers are roaming free, thumbing their noses at the authorities and destined to perpetrate additional horrifying crimes.

    Catching the murderers of the three members of the Dawabsheh family — on Monday, Riham was buried, following in the wake of her toddler son Ali and her husband Sa’ad — isn’t like searching for a needle in a haystack. It can be assumed, with a fairly high degree of certainty, that the murderers came from one of the wild outposts around the Shiloh Valley. And in any case, the population on which suspicion has fallen — the one from which previous arsonists and lawbreakers came — isn’t a group of infinite size or indeterminate character. The Shin Bet, which excels at catching Palestinian terrorists, cannot wash its hands and claim that it is unable to catch the perpetrators of this abominable crime.

    It’s enough to recall how the Shin Bet, the Israel Defense Forces and the police behaved after three Israeli teens were kidnapped more than a year ago, even once it was clear that they had already been killed: During Operation Brother’s Keeper, thousands of soldiers flooded the West Bank and arrested some 400 Palestinians, including members of the Palestinian parliament, who had no connection to the murder. And the murderers’ end came swiftly: They were liquidated.

    Israel reacted savagely at that time, but it proved that every Palestinian terrorist will end up either in jail or in the grave. The burden of proof that Israel doesn’t have a policy of discriminating among the perpetrators of vile crimes on the basis of their nationality now rests on the investigative agencies and the government that gives them their orders. …

    … The prime minister and the defense minister must convene the heads of the security services and make it clear to them that catching these murderers is their top priority, and all necessary resources must be devoted to this task. If they do not, the vehement condemnations of the murder that were heard from every part of the political spectrum will remain nothing but empty words.

    The people who burned an entire family to death and sentenced the one member who remained alive, a 4-year-old boy, to orphanhood, are extremely dangerous — not just to the Palestinians, but also to Israeli citizens.

    People who burned babies alive are walking around free. And there is no greater shame for those who should have caught them long ago.”

    read more:

    Though I appreciate the editorial, it’s not enough to blame the uniformed thugs of the IOF/Shin Bet. You’ve got to also blame the PM and DM themselves. You have to blame the silent members of the Knesset. You have to blame the majority citizenry of Israel. You have to blame the majority of your media, too.

    Whatever happened to the terrorists who burned Mohammed Abu Khdeir alive, anyway? Are they still under house arrest? Are they still undergoing “psych testing”? There’s plenty of blame to go around.

    • annie
      September 8, 2015, 7:12 pm

      they won’t arrest anyone. no one will be charged with this crime. not going to happen. what motivation would they have to arrest anyone? the state is not in the business of protecting palestinians — just the opposite. unless it’s caught on video (like the car of Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s killer, or the video of Tariq Abu Khdeir being abducted and beat up) nothing ever happens. whereas when the victim is a jew they go into towns and hold the whole place hostage abducting, beating up and torturing til someone “confesses”. and then they steal a bunch of land as punishment or reward or something. it’s a sick society. no one will go on trial for this crime — ever.

  9. Kris
    September 10, 2015, 10:36 am

    BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities know who is responsible for an arson attack in the northern West Bank village of Duma in July, which resulted in the death of three out of four family members caught in the blaze, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Thursday.

    Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told a closed meeting of 20 Likud activists on Wednesday that Israel’s defense establishment has chosen to “prevent legal recourse in order to protect the identity of their sources,” Haaretz reported.

    Three Jewish extremists are currently in Israeli custody, but none are suspected of the Duma arson attack.

    On July 31, Israeli settlers smashed the windows of two homes in Duma, before throwing flammable liquids and Molotov cocktails inside, burning an 18-month-old toddler alive.

    The toddler’s father, Saad Dawabsha, succumbed to his wounds a week later, while his mother, Riham Dawabsha, struggled for over a month with third degree burns on 90 percent of her body before passing away overnight Sunday.

    The couple’s four-year-old son, Ahmad Dawabsha, who is in stable but critical condition, is the only remaining survivor of the attack.

    Following the attack, Israeli authorities arrested a number of extremists without charge, but later released nearly all of them.

    More at :

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