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Israel releases Dawabsha arson suspect on house arrest

Dec. 11, 2015 11:40 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 11, 2015 6:36 P.M.)
Relatives mourn 18-month-old Palestinian Ali Saad Dawabsha, who died in an arson attack in the West Bank village of Duma on July 31, 2015. (AFP/Thomas Coex, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel on Thursday released an Israeli settler arrested for suspected involvement in a fatal arson attack on a Palestinian family in July, Israeli media reported.

The settler, connected to a Jewish extremist organization, was arrested along with several others as a suspect in an arson that killed three members of the Dawabsha family in Duma village in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus.

The suspect was reportedly released and transferred to house arrest for five days at his home in the illegal Israeli settlement of Benyamin, east of Ramallah city.

The settler, whose name has not been released, is a married father of two.

The man was arrested 12 days ago by the Israeli intelligence and presented to an Israeli court on Wednesday, Israeli media reported. His detention was extended to Sunday, but was unexpectedly released on Friday.

On Dec. 3, Israeli forces announced that they had arrested several Israelis in connection to the Dawabsha arson. The information about the arrests was released after a weeks-long gag order was partially lifted on the investigation.

All other information regarding the investigation is still under a gag order requested by the Israeli police.

Suspects involved in the attack were identified by Israel’s defense establishment in September, but no charges were filed at the time, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

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

The words "revenge" and "long live the Messiah" were sprayed in Hebrew outside of the house, immediately indicating that the arson was the work of Jewish extremists.

Ali Saad Dawabsha, one-and-a-half years old, was trapped in the house and burned alive. The infant's mother and father, Riham and Saad, later died from severe burns.

Orphaned four-year-old, Ahmad Dawabsha, is the only remaining survivor of the attack and remains in the hospital receiving treatment.

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.

Thursday’s partial lift on the gag-order came one day after the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, criticized Israel for the "slow progress" in investigating the arson.

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