Eight months after the firebombing that killed five-year-old Ahmad Dawabshe’s baby brother and parents in the occupied West Bank village of Duma, he is still undergoing treatment in the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan.
Ahmad is energetic and enthralled with car-racing video games, like any child his age. “People see that he’s coming and going and playing and laughing. But his health situation now – he has serious injuries and will need a long time to heal,” his maternal grandfather and caretaker Hussein Dawabshe told me in the hospital lobby.
Having suffered second-degree burns, Ahmad wears a special hooded layer 23 hours per day to treat scarring, only removing it to bathe.
The Palestinian Authority is paying for Ahmad’s medical expenses, after Israel refused to recognize him as a victim of terror.
Ahmad and his grandfather rarely leave the hospital. In front of a Ramat Gan supermarket last month, Hussein Dawabshe told me, Israeli children he estimated to be twelve years old recognized Ahmad and threw metal cans at them before he chased them away. “There are good Israelis, but there are also bad ones. Sometimes it’s not easy to tell which is which,” he said.
He has devoted his life to taking care of Ahmad, leaving his other children. “I am willing to stay and keep taking care of Ahmad for one, two, three or ten years. What matters is that Ahmad is not in danger. I want him to live without trouble and fear.”
The trial for the murder began last week, what Hussein Dawabshe called a “charade.” He described a scene of sympathy for the Amiram-Ben Uliel, one of the alleged killers. “It was harder on me than the day when my daughter was burned,” he recalled. “The person who killed your kid is in front of you, barely a meter between you and him, and you can’t do anything as he’s laughing.”
Dawabshe does not believe the Israeli government will deliver justice for the murder of his daughter’s family. “If the Israeli government wanted to prevent this from happening, they could have. There is no way that under this occupation you would find justice. This is not a country of democracy but rather a country of murder – a country that doesn’t respect law or human emotions. No one does this but a Nazi country.”
There is worry that another attack could happen again. Settlers have reportedly harassed villagers, chanting “Duma number two.” “This is a normal thing for them, those who would torch your kids and laugh about it in your face. The Israeli military protects them, the police protects them, the whole of the state is protecting them.”