Arson attack in West Bank kills 18-month Palestinian baby

Israeli officials vow to find culprit of terror attack; PA, Hamas and Jordan hold Israel responsible for attack, PA threatening to go to ICC; Netanyahu: Israel will use all the resources at their disposal to capture the killers and bring them to justice as soon as possible.

18- month killed, Ali Saad Dawabsheh and the home of the family

18- month killed, Ali Saad Dawabsheh and the home of the family

Friday morning two Palestinian homes was set on fire in the West Bank in the town of Duma, one of two arson attacks, in what Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to as a “terrorist attack in every respect” vowing to find the perpetrators.

A Palestinian 18- month baby, Ali Saad Dawabsheh was killed in the attack. The parents of Dawadsheh and their four-year-old son were also injured in the attacked and evacuated to a nearby hospital. Initial reports claim they are in critical condition due to severe burns.

The homes were sprayed with graffiti that read “revenge” and “long live the Messiah, the King, in what IDF and Israeli police are investigating as an attack by Jewish settlers in the West Bank. The attack in believed to have been a “price-tag” attack- a group of Jewish extremists known mainly for graffiti and arson attacks.

Grafitti "Revenge" on home (Rabbis for Human Rights)

Grafitti “Revenge” on home (Rabbis for Human Rights)

Israeli officials responded to the terror attack, vowing to find the culprits and bring justice.

Prime Minister Netanyahu reacted to the arson attack, stating that “I am shocked by this horrific, heinous act. This is a terror attack in every respect. The State of Israel deals forcefully with terror, regardless of who the perpetrators are.” He stated that Israel will “use all the resources at their disposal to capture the killers and bring them to justice as soon as possible.”

Israel’s Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon stated that “The arson and the murder of the Palestinian baby Ali Dawabsheh is a serious terror attack that cannot be tolerated, and we condemn it outright. We will chase down the murderers until they are caught.”

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin addressed the attacks Friday afternoon, stating, “In the face of a wave of terror against the innocent, the loss of life, and the loss of law and order, the State of Israel and Israeli society must carry some soul searching. To my great sorrow, until now it seems we have been lax in our treatment of the phenomena of Jewish terrorism. Perhaps we did not internalize that we are faced with a determined and dangerous, ideological group, which aims to destroy the fragile bridges which we work so tirelessly to build. I believe that the more we understand this significant danger to the State of Israel, the more we will be aware to confront it, and uproot it.”

The Palestinian Authority has threatened to bring the incident to the International Criminal Court, connecting the attacks to settlement growth in the West Bank. Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, the head negotiator for the PA, stated that the Palestinian Authority “hold the Israeli government fully responsible for the brutal assassination of the toddler Ali Saad Dawabsha. This is a direct consequence of decades of impunity given by the Israeli government to settler terrorism… By continuing to approve settlements and incite against Palestinian presence, including calls to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the Israeli government has paved the road for this brutal act.”

Hamas connected the attacks to recent classes at the Dome of the Rock/Temple Mount (al-Aqsa Mosque) over the week, the terrorist organization previously vowing that Friday would be a day of revenge. Husam Badran, a spokesperson for Hamas responded to the arson attacks stating, “There is no other way but resistance, in all its components, in order to halt the crimes of the occupation” calling on Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strop to protest and demonstrate in order to “protect al-Aqsa.”

Additionally, Jordan also holds Israel responsible for the attack, a government spokesperson reacting to the attack, stating “This ugly crime could have been avoided if the Israeli government had not ignored the rights of the Palestinian people and turned its back on peace.”

The IDF reinforced security in the region as well as in Old City Jerusalem, with checkpoints in the West Bank and an ongoing investigation underway. IDF Spokesperson Moti Almoz stated following the attack that, “I cannot recall such a serious incident in the past few years. It’s a crime, and we are calling it a terror attack for all intents and purposes.” Almoz informed the public of measures taken in light of security concerns. He stated, “We sent four battalions as a first response. Two divisions are on alert to be sent to the area as this is an incident that may affect the security situation. The amount of forces sent out is designed to be ready for any possible local events, including at the Temple Mount.”