Early Tuesday morning suspected Jewish nationalists launched two tear gas canisters scribbled with the word “revenge” into a Palestinian home in Beitillu outside of Ramallah, said Israeli police. At the time a Palestinian family was sleeping inside of the house, including an nine-month old baby. No injuries were reported.
The head of Beitillu Village Council Hisham al-Bazzar told the Palestinian outlet Wafa one window was broken during the attack on the home of Hussein al-Najjar. After the gas was lobbed indoors neighbors rushed to the scene and evacuated the al-Najjar family.
Israeli police said in a statement the assailants graffitied “hello from the prisoners of Zion” on an exterior wall and therefore were investigating the assault as a “price tag” attack, a so-called revenge act by Jewish extremists on Palestinians for perceived repression against the settler movement by the Israeli government.
The incident in Beitillu follows an earlier fatal arson attack over the summer where presumed Jewish nationalists burned a Palestinian house killing three in the West Bank hamlet of Duma, including 18-month old Ali Dawabshe. The “prisoners of Zion” tag on the Beitillu home is believed to be a reference and a nod of approval towards the actions of Israelis arrested in connection with the Duma firebombing.
A suspect held in police custody in relation to the Duma attack made headlines in Israel this week over a controversy regarding his confession. A lawyer representing the suspect claimed his client was abused by Israeli security service agents. The identity of the suspect is sealed under a gag order.
Attorney Itamar Ben Gvir said in a press briefing yesterday the suspect was coerced to give a confession and reconstruct the July 31, 2015 firebombing after 20 days of physical and sexual abuse during questioning. Ben Gvir relayed his client asserted authorities acted in ways of “harming his values.”
The unidentified suspect is held in prison under an administrative detention order, an Israeli policy of arrest without charge that is levied against Palestinians living in the occupied territory, but typically not used on citizens of Israel. As a result of this measure, Ben Gvir was only able to meet his client for this first time this week.
Other backers of the suspect protested Monday in Jerusalem against the former head of the Shin Beit, Israel’s intelligence service, Yoram Cohen and blocked streets. Police arrested 18 demonstrators.
Yet in the aftermath of the Beitillu attack, the second on a slumbering Palestinian family, Israeli politicians across the political spectrum have again lambasted the Duma arsonists and lauded Israel’s security forces for their investigation—pushing daylight between Israel’s far-right leaders and their political base.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett from the hardline Jewish Home party said Wednesday morning the detained Israelis in connection with the Duma killings are “terror suspects” who “burned people in their sleep with the goal of dismantling the state,” reported Israel National News.
Bennett painted the suspects as rabble rousers who sought “to bring down the state, to dismantle the institutions of the state of Israel. The murder in Duma was a means to bring down religious Zionism and the state of Israel.”
Since the Duma attack in late summer the Palestinian government reported increased act of settler violence against Palestinians. In October the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Negotiations Affairs Department (PLO-NAD) noted a record 285 acts of settler violence against Palestinians, increased from 54 incidents in September and 82 in August. The incidents ranged from settlers firing shots to damaging residential property.