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Dawabsha family: Israeli government gave settlers a 'licence to kill'

Dec. 3, 2015 4:42 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 4, 2015 1:08 P.M.)
Relatives carry the body of Palestinian toddler Ali Saad Dawabsha, through the streets of the West Bank village of Duma during his funeral on July 31, 2015. (AFP/Thomas Coex, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Dawabsha family on Thursday held the Israeli government responsible for an arson attack carried out by settlers which killed three family members in July, as Israeli security forces revealed that several Jewish extremists had been arrested on suspicion of murder.

“The Israeli government is the one who gave settlers a license to kill by giving them freedom to enter Palestinian villages,” Hussein Dawabsha, the father of Riham, who was killed in the attack, told Ma'an following news of the arrests.

“The case is still not clear as no Israeli official updated me on the case and I knew about the arrest from journalists.”

The failure to detain any suspects following the deadly attack in July has angered Palestinians and been criticized by the the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov.

Hussein Dawabsha told Ma'an that the family is still trying to recover from the devastating loss of 18-month-old Ali and the infant's mother and father, Riham and Saad, who later died from severe burns.

“My message to the Israeli government is clear, which is not only to arrest settlers but to prevent any settlers assaulting Palestinians and entering Palestinian villages and towns," he said.

“It would not be enough even if they were sentenced to death. I would not be satisfied by any sentence as nothing will bring back the family that I lost.”

Earlier, an Israeli police spokeswoman for Arab media, Luba al-Samri, confirmed that police "recently arrested young men suspected of membership in a Jewish terrorist organization, and of carrying out different terrorist attacks."

"Specific suspicions are being examined about involvement in the abominable terrorist attack of torching the home of the Dawabsha family in the Palestinian town of Duma," she added.

On July 31, suspected Israeli settlers smashed the windows of the Dawabsha family home before throwing flammable liquids and Molotov cocktails inside, setting the home ablaze.

The attack sparked criticism from the international community for Israel's failure to hold Israeli settlers and Jewish extremists accountable for attacks on Palestinians, in effect being complicit in such attacks.

Israeli leadership at the time condemned the Dawabsha attack as "terrorism," and pledged to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Israeli rights group B'Tselem slammed the reaction by Israeli officials as "empty rhetoric."

"Official condemnations of this attack are empty rhetoric as long as politicians continue their policy of avoiding enforcement of the law on Israelis who harm Palestinians, and do not deal with the public climate and the incitement which serve as backdrop to these acts," the group said at the time.
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