Israel Knows Who Perpetrated Duma Arson Attack, But Won't Take Legal Action

The defence minister says the suspects won't be charged to protect intel sources.

Israel West Bank Settler Terror Attack
A Palestinian man looks out a house that was badly damaged from a suspected attack by Jewish extremists on two houses at Kafr Duma village near the West Bank city of Nablus July 31.Reuters/Abed Omar Qusini

Israeli authorities have identified the attackers behind the arson attack which killed three members of a Palestinian family in a West Bank village in July. However, they have decided against legal action at present to avoid making their sources public in court, the Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon confirmed on Wednesday.

Yaalon revealed that the perpetrators of the attack, who are suspected to be Jewish extremists, had been identified in a private meeting involving approximately 20 members of the ruling Likud party, which is headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported. The defense minister said that legal proceedings had not been brought against those identified in order to prevent the intel sources, who helped the authorities identify the attackers, being revealed. It remains unclear if legal action will be taken against the attackers in the future.

An Israeli Ministry of Defense spokesperson declined to give a statement but confirmed the report of Yaalon's comments to Newsweek.

The Dawabsha family home in the village of Duma, approximately 25km (15.5 miles) southeast of the West Bank city of Nablus, was attacked with molotov cocktails and torched on July 31 while they slept. The arson killed 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha immediately while his father, Saad, died from his injuries last month. The mother, Reham, died from her injuries earlier this week. leaving her son Ahmad, 4, as the only remaining survivor of the attack.

Palestine West Bank Middle East
A mourner carries the body of 18-month-old Palestinian baby Ali Dawabsheh, who was killed after his family's house was set to fire in a suspected attack by Jewish extremists in Duma village near the West Bank city of Nablus July 31.Reuters/Ammar Awad

The perpetrators spraypainted the words "revenge" and "long live the Messiah" in Hebrew on the house, an indication that it was a 'price tag' attack. These attacks are acts of vandalism carried out against the Palestinian population or the Israeli authorities in retaliation for actions deemed to harm their settlement enterprise.

In the days following the deadly attack, three Jewish suspects were detained but their identities are yet to be revealed. The three are being held in administrative detention, a controversial law enforcement method where people can be detained without charges brought against them or a trial. The Israeli government's justification for using such a policy is to ensure domestic security but also to keep the sources of their evidence private.

Xavier Abu Eid, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) spokesman, says that the failure to bring the attackers of the Dawabsha family to justice is another example of impunity given to Israeli settlers in the West Bank. "It is insulting. At the same time, it is not surprising," he says. "This is a government that we hold fully responsible for what happened in Duma."

"The Israeli government now says that they are going to arrest one or two, let's see, but this is not going to change a daily reality of incitement, hate speech and terror attacks against Palestinians," he adds.

Following the arson attack, as well as a stabbing attack by an Orthodox Jew at a Jerusalem gay pride march which killed a 16-year-old girl, the Israeli government approved tougher measures to counter "Jewish terrorism," sanctioning the use of administrative detention for Jewish suspects.

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