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Video: Meet Ahmad Dawabshe, the five-year-old survivor of the Duma firebombing

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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.”


Dan Cohen

Dan Cohen is an independent journalist and filmmaker based in Palestine. He tweets at @dancohen3000.

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27 Responses

  1. Ossinev on March 9, 2016, 11:14 am

    “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.”

    Remember there used to be the Nazi SS. Now there is the proud Israeli SS successor = Settler Scum.

    I wish a happy life for this brave little boy but fear that the coming years may not be good for him as the new SS backed up by their good buddies in the IOF crank up their atrocities
    against the native Palestinian population.


    • Arwa on March 10, 2016, 5:50 am

      I can´t stop crying……..

      • Lillian Rosengarten on March 10, 2016, 11:40 am

        Zionist Israel A hell on earth.Where is the media outrage? Fascists. Palestinians last victims of the Holocaust. Break The Silence for god’s sake.

  2. sawah on March 9, 2016, 11:56 am

    heart breaking….the face of ongoing torment and PTSD .. a century old now ..appropriately a child…

    Thanks so much Dan.

  3. a blah chick on March 9, 2016, 12:20 pm

    “The Palestinian Authority is paying for Ahmad’s medical expenses, after Israel refused to recognize him as a victim of terror. ”

    Didn’t Netanyahu promise, while the cameras were rolling, that his government would foot the bill? Through another lie on the pile.

    “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.”

    Culture of death.

  4. wfleitz on March 9, 2016, 12:25 pm

    Thanks Dan. Ma’an is reporting that Ahmad will be visiting Real Madrid on March 17th. Ahmad is a great fan of Ronaldo and Madrid and I can imagine the excitement he must feel. Rarely do Americans consider the children’s lives their tax dollars go to destroy but these children are like our children with the same desires for happiness and hopes and dreams. I cry for them everyday.

    Best luck to you and Max on the film!

    • pmb1414 on March 9, 2016, 2:21 pm

      Wherever young Ahmad has the opportunity to meet with his hero Ronaldo and Real Madrid, I hope it’s covered thoroughly by media. If that meeting were to take place in the US, no one would know about it, or at the very least the coverage would be heavily “sanitized.”

    • El Cazador on March 10, 2016, 9:48 am

      I’m a man nearing 70 years old, and your words are pulling tears from me, wfleitz. Thank you so much for reminding us all of the beauty of life the children should be able to feel, appreciate and live. Unfortunately people’s behaviours can destroy all that beauty. Greed, love of power, carelessness and many other so-called human traits are becoming the biggest danger for the whole humanity. And we’re supposed to be at the very summit of the animal kingdom… Simply unbelievable. I sincerely wonder if I’ll see another world war before I leave this earth, this only earth.

  5. a blah chick on March 9, 2016, 1:52 pm

    I think Dan did a fine job, I have only one minor quibble. Don’t call the perpetrators “vigilantes,” they are terrorists.

  6. annie on March 9, 2016, 2:06 pm

    what an incredible video. the love and care of the grandfather. thanks so much dan.

    • chocopie on March 9, 2016, 5:56 pm

      That’s what struck me too, how nurturing the grandfather is, how the grandfather addresses the child’s emotional needs. Considering the horrible trauma young Ahmad has experienced, it looks like he at least has the perfect grandfather to help him heal psychologically.

      • Elisabeth on March 10, 2016, 5:47 am

        Can you believe that in Israel it is common ‘wisdom’ that Palestinians have a ‘culture of death’? Make them watch this video!

  7. Froggy on March 9, 2016, 5:19 pm

    Those poor people ! Grandfather and grandson have suffered so much, and with more treatment ahead for little Ahmad their suffering still isn’t over. Both grandfather and child know this, and yet they still manage to remain compassionate and dignified. The Israelis are neither

    Thank you, Dan.

    • El Cazador on March 10, 2016, 10:03 am


      I still keep hope that not all Israelis are not compassionate and dignified. Many resist the actual government, but they don’t have much access to mainstream media, they’re roughed up by right-wing groups in Tel Aviv and elsewhere. They risk ostracism and worse. Those who have enough are trying their best to get a second passport and leave Israel. I’m told there are more leaving than coming in. As long as the USA will keep protecting Israel at the United Nations and giving Israel a yearly hefty sum of $4 billions as of this year (from a yearly $3 billions in the past 4 decades or so), only BDS will have enough power to make Israeli governments realize that the charade of Palestinian terrorism has lasted long enough. When the whole world, including South Africa, accuses Israel of genocide and apartheid, it’s obvious that the Big Israeli Lie is only that, a Big Israeli Lie. A Zionist Lie…

  8. zaid on March 9, 2016, 7:51 pm

    Why does the video label the subhuman settlers as vigilante!

    As if these settlers were retaliating for something this poor family did!

    • Marnie on March 10, 2016, 4:44 am

      Agree. This was a hate crime for belonging to the wrong ethnic religious group and to send a message to others of the wrong ethnic religious group that if they continue to claim their rights to live on their land and not bow down to the zionist idols, they will suffer. As if these filthy pigs have the right to decide who lives or dies. There will be a reckoning.

      • El Cazador on March 10, 2016, 10:07 am

        «Zionist idols»? Oh yes, the Golden Calf. Moses would throw a real tantrum if he saw what his people have become in Palestine.

  9. on March 9, 2016, 11:35 pm

    This video is really sad, but I am glad to see tremendous support that is being provided to the boy. While it can never dilute the absolute rawness of the tragedy befallen him and his family, at least we can look forward to his brighter future.

    In other colonial regimes such as the US and Australia, millions of native children are in a much more dire straits. For these children who are forced to grow up in remote reservations by white settler-colonialists, life is like being engulfed by a really slow fire 24/7. Just enough to torment but not enough to kill, atleast not on its own. It is not unusual for children as young as 8 to commit suicide, due to the level of everpresent trauma in their lives. Recently, an aboriginal child growing up in a white-supremecist colonial regime in Australia, killed herself aged only 10. As tragic as her suicide may be, how much worse was her life before which culminated in the child killing herself? For me, she was merely another victim, of white supremacy which has killed hundreds of millions before her and will continue to kill, unless we progressives do something about it. It is up to us to stop and destroy white supremacy and liberate all of the people it oppresses, from Palestine to the US, Australia to Canada.

    • Mooser on March 10, 2016, 4:04 pm

      That’s all very nice, so natural so clear. But can you tell me why I started feeling so delicate yesterday morning about 9:17? Like I could shatter into a thousand pieces. Strangest feeling. Do you know what it is called, or where it comes from?

    • Tchoupitoulas on March 10, 2016, 11:58 pm

      Hi Rugal. You almost sounded human there, after those first two sentences.

      Then I got to your second paragraph, and realized it was all BS.

      • on March 13, 2016, 10:17 am

        How is it BS? Do you think the kids in the remote reservation will be growing up any happier than Ahmad? Do you deny the mass depression and suicide epidemic among those native American and Aboriginal children?

        Ahmad lost his family, which on its own, yeah it sucks. But he still have the love and support of his extended family, he still has his parents culture, language and religion, he still at least for now, has a place to call his homeland, all of which I am sure will prevent him for slitting his throat or hang himself from the fan anytime soon. Unlike the aboriginal or native kids, he would with a high likelihood, grow up to be a proud, well-adjusted man just like the 90% of Palestinians who have been subject to Zionist atrocities since 1948!

  10. Marnie on March 10, 2016, 2:34 am

    I can’t begin to imagine all the years of therapy that Ahmad Dawabshe is going to need and the physical hurt he has to endure, not even getting to the psychological pain and suffering he and his grandfather live with. But I look at his beautiful face and see his lovely mother and handsome father and know they live through him and must be so proud of this one to carry their name. I have so much respect and admiration for his dear grandfather.

    And the killers live without any fear. God help anyone that harm’s this boy and his remaining family.

    • Boo on March 10, 2016, 12:49 pm

      Yes, it’s clear from the intensity and duration of treatment Ahmad has required that his burns were third degree, not second. It’s somewhat of a miracle that he survived. I pray that as he grows, he can have some semblance of a normal life. And I pray that those who murdered his baby sister and his parents will never again have any semblance of a normal life. May the same also come true for the punks in front of the supermarket who threw tin cans at him.

      • WH on March 11, 2016, 2:40 am

        Don’t hold your breath. There’s a long-standing culture of impunity for Jews.

        I literally cannot imagine how one deals with such a situation, first the murder and then being jeered at and hounded by the people who murdered your family. I would go insane.

    • RockyMissouri on March 10, 2016, 2:34 pm

      Thank you, for an inspiring comment.

  11. tidings on March 11, 2016, 1:16 am

    Thank you very much, Dan, for caring enough to do this and for capturing so delicately these beautiful interactions between Ahmad and his grandfather. These terrible stories must be told and must be heard. For some of us, that’s about all we can do right now.

  12. kalithea on March 11, 2016, 11:24 am

    The criminal Zionist squatter gang should get life in prison for this barbaric act. Squatters inflicting price tag terrorism are criminals acting with impunity because Zionism repeatedly protects criminals that inflict crimes against Palestinians while it imposes disproportionate punishment on Palestinian children for merely resisting with stones. In today’s Zionism a young David would be imprisoned for throwing stones; oh, that’s right Jews are exempt from accountability.

    Apparently there’s been another incident of settlers torching the home of Palestinians, because in fact, since there’s zero accountability for these crimes; Zionists resort to violent terrorism repeatedly.:

    Jewish settlers on Thursday evening set fire to a Palestinian house in Shushahla village, south of Bethlehem city, and caused considerable material damage to it.

    According to anti-settlement activist Hasan Barejiya, a few settlers from the illegal Danial settlement torched the house of Muhannad Salah while he and his family were outside.

    After returning to their house, Salah and his family members tried to put out the fire, but it had already caused extensive damage to the furniture and interior walls.

    The same house had been attacked in the morning of the same day with stones and its exterior walls were daubed with anti-Arab graffiti and threats, Barejiya noted.

    Local sources said that the settlers from Danial illegal settlement made a hole in the razor wire between the settlement and the village, broke in, and sprayed slogans which read “Death to Arabs” and “Leave”.

    The settlers also hurled stones at the home knowing that the family was inside it.

    Oh, and they hurled stones too! I wonder if they’ll get a separate charge and extra prison time for that count? Fat chance in the Zionist Kangaroo Court.

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