Several Jewish terrorists arrested over deadly arson


JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities said Thursday they had arrested several alleged Jewish extremists over the firebombing of a Palestinian home in the West Bank that killed a toddler and his parents.
Israel faces mounting pressure to bring the perpetrators of the July attack to justice, with a UN envoy on Wednesday expressing concern over the “slow progress” in the probe.
“We have confirmed that a number of suspects have been arrested in connection with the incident that took place in Duma,” Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.
The Shin Bet domestic security agency said arrests had been made in recent days of young men “suspected of belonging to a Jewish terror organization and carrying out terror attacks.”
It said in a statement that the detainees were being questioned over the July 31 firebombing in the West Bank village of Duma, located near the Jordan Valley and close to wildcat Jewish settlements.
Further information on the investigation, including the identities of those held, remained under an Israeli gag order, often used to keep details of sensitive investigations secret.
Eighteen-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha and his parents were killed in the firebombing. The couple’s four-year-old son was the sole survivor from the immediate family.
A Star of David and the words “revenge” and “long live the Messiah” were spray-painted on a wall near the family’s small house.
The arson drew renewed attention to Jewish extremism and accusations that Israel had not done enough to address the problem.
Young Jewish men from wildcat settlement outposts in the West Bank and known as the “hilltop youth” have been blamed for violence and vandalism targeting Palestinians, Christian holy sites and even Israeli military property.

Slow justice

The attack led to widespread condemnation globally and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu labelled it “terrorism” — a word usually used by Israelis to refer to violence committed by Palestinians.
But criticism intensified as months passed without anyone being charged for the attack.
Nickolay Mladenov, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said Wednesday that the lack of charges was troubling.
“Four months have passed since the arson attack against the Dawabsha family,” he said in a statement.
“I am concerned by the slow progress and call on the Israeli authorities to move swiftly in bringing the perpetrators of this terrible crime to justice.”
In the face of such criticism, authorities had earlier suggested that some of the suspects may be currently held under Israel’s controversial administrative detention policy, which enables detention without trial for six-month renewable periods.
Rights groups and Palestinian leaders however have called for those behind the arson to be brought to trial.
Palestinians have often highlighted the lack of progress in the case as among the causes of a wave of violence that began on October 1.
The violence has included Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming attacks.
Since the start of October, 104 people have been killed on the Palestinian side, including an Arab Israeli, while 17 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean have also died.
Many of the Palestinians killed have been attackers, while others have been shot dead by Israeli security forces during clashes.
In the latest incident, an Israeli soldier was wounded in a West Bank shooting on Thursday and his alleged assailant was shot.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said that a Palestinian was shot dead at the scene of the incident, in the West Bank village of Hizmeh, north of Jerusalem.

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