Israel hiding killers who burned Palestinian family alive, minister reveals

A Palestinian girl writes a message on a wall in the firebombed Dawabsha family home in Duma village in the occupied West Bank, 7 September.

Shadi Hatem APA images

A few days ago, I tweeted: “Either Israel already knows who murdered the Dawabshas and is covering it up or it has made zero effort to find them. One or the other.”

That was the day after Riham Dawabsha died of injuries from the horrific firebombing of her family home that killed her son, 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha, in the occupied West Bank village of Duma.

The boy’s father, Saad, died of his injuries in August, leaving Ali’s badly burned 4-year-old brother Ahmed as the sole survivor.

Israel’s conduct turned out to be depressingly predictable.

Haaretz reported today that, according to Israel’s defense minister Moshe Yaalon, “Israel’s defense establishment knows who is responsible for the arson attack that killed three members of a Palestinian family two months ago, but has chosen to prevent legal recourse in order to protect the identity of their sources.”

Yaalon made the remarks in a closed meeting of activists of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party.

The minister later confirmed to Haaretz that the Israeli defense establishment “believes they know who carried out the terrorist attack, but there is difficulty in putting them on trial. I hope that we’ll find the evidence necessary in order to bring the perpetrator [sic] of this heinous attack to justice.”

According to Haaretz, Yaalon “also noted that the perpetrators belong to a group of Jewish extremists that intended to increase tension in the West Bank. Therefore, said Ya’alon, the decision was made to put Jewish suspects in administrative detention, in order to prevent future attacks.”

Witnesses had seen the attackers flee to the nearby Israeli settlement of Maaleh Efraim after the Dawabsha home was set on fire.

Three Jewish settlers, Meir Ettinger, Mordechai Meyer and Eviatar Slonim, have been held without charge since the attack for allegedly plotting and carrying out other violent attacks against Palestinians. But it is unknown if any of them are among the suspects referred to by Yaalon.

Following the attack on the Dawabsha family and intense international condemnation, Netanyahu vowed to find the killers.

But he did not order the army to go on the sort of destructive rampage meted out against Palestinians after the June 2014 abduction and killing of three Israeli youths in the occupied West Bank.

In that case, Israel carried out the extrajudicial murders of two Palestinians it claimed were behind the abductions and the collective punishment of their families by destroying their homes.

Who are they protecting?

Yaalon’s reported excuse, that Israeli authorities had not announced the arrest of the suspects in the Dawabsha murders to “protect the identity of their sources,” makes little sense.

Why would “sources” who had helped apprehend alleged murderers need protection, and from whom? And why couldn’t Israel with its mighty army and all-knowing “security” services provide it?

If the “sources” are from Shin Bet, Israel’s internal spy agency, why could they not testify anonymously as they have frequently done against Palestinians? And even if Israel is worried about their identities being exposed, why is that more important than the lives of Palestinians?

Yaalon’s revelation looks like yet another example of the systematic impunity Israeli soldiers and settlers are granted for attacks on Palestinians.

It would also not be the first time settlers have gotten away with burning Palestinians alive.

The settlers, just like the army, are an extension of the Israeli settler-colonial state that always protects its own and that glorifies the terrorists and ethnic cleansers who established it.

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What they may do find is find someone far enough down the political totem pole to be expandable and sacrifice them for the spectacle of a "show trial." As if that is sufficient .
Meanwhile the whole racist criminal power structure remains in place.

Zionism Must End! Like Jim Crow, like Apartheid it is racist and its wrong.

No equality, No peace!

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The more grievous the crime, the greater the impunity. Netanyahu's impending visit to Britain provokes thunderous silence when the prospect of his lawful arrest is raised. The man has complete immunity- that's the position of the Cameron government. There is nothing he or his confederates could do to deprive themselves of this protection. Nothing. And within Israel, the little Bibis who carry out atrocities of their own are afforded the same status. Were the state to indict the killers, it would in a manner of speaking be arraigning itself. So they're given protective custody, and we're expected to forget.

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The actual criminals, probably settlers, who committed this crime should be tried and convicted if guilty. But the real criminals are the Israeli authorities who continue to steal Palestinian land, engage in draconian policies against the Palestinians, and do nothing to stop the pogroms the radical settlers engage in on a daily basis. It is as if Israelis are taking what was done to Jews in Europe in the past, copying those behaviors, and acting them out on the Palestinians who are completely innocent and have done nothing to deserve how they are treated.

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"Israelis are taking what was done to Jews in Europe in the past, copying those behaviors, and acting them out on the Palestinians"

This is painfully true. Further to that, the Zionist regime enjoys harmonious and profitable relations with those countries, including of course Germany, where the most terrible persecutions of Jews occurred. Right wing European political parties, the traditional engines of antisemitism, fall over themselves in admiration of Israel- and it's easy to see why. In an era in which hatred of Muslims has largely replaced antisemitism as a rallying point, Israel stands as the foremost exponent of merciless persecution.

In an equally disturbing development, Jews are now beaten in the streets in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem by Zionists raving about treason and the Fatherland. Those cultural traits seen as central to Jewish life in the diaspora- curiosity, egalitarianism, disputatiousness, a sense of irony- are despised by a Zionism obsessed with power, race and conquest. This loathing has a long and dirty pedigree. Its rightful name is antisemitism, and that's the core of Zionism: antisemitism for Jews.

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I do not know why it seems that anything the Israeli government is behind get s a pass by the US/UK governments. It seems this is no exception but the real peretrators need to be brought to justice over this crime. All the other campaigns by Israel seem directed toward genocide, perpetrated against the Palestinians to take their land. It is no secret that a Jewish homeland has been planned for as early as 1910 in Palestine.

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Hello Electronic Intifada,
I did not get todays electronic intifada, but updated my email I like getting it every day and send the stories to face book but they, censure the cover picture that goes with every story. I don't know what to do about it.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.