Duma arson attack: Israel 'protects rather than arrests' killers of Palestinian family and other anti-Arab extremists, says Palestinian leader

Relatives have buried the third member of a Palestinian family to die from firebombing that remains unsolved by police and the Shin Bet security service

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The Independent Online

The leading Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi has accused Israel of protecting rather than arresting perpetrators of anti-Arab attacks.

Her claim came as relatives buried the third member of a Palestinian family to die from firebombing that remains unsolved by police and the Shin Bet security service. Riham Dawabsha, 27, died today of burn wounds suffered in the attack in Duma village in the occupied West Bank, which took the life of her 18-month-old son, Ali, and her husband, Saad, 31.

The condition of another son, Ahmed, four, also being treated for burns, has reportedly improved. The pre-dawn attack on 31 July, in which perpetrators scrawled the Hebrew word for “revenge” and a Star of David on a wall, was roundly condemned in Israel and prompted vows to get tough with violence against Palestinians after years of what Israeli President Reuven Rivlin conceded was a “lax” attitude. But the failure to apprehend anyone is raising the question of whether anything will actually change.

“As always, Israel as a country acts with impunity internationally and it grants its criminals and terrorists impunity internally,” said Ms Ashrawi, a leading  PLO member.

“Israel could easily have caught all its terrorists, all the criminals who commit acts against Palestinians, but because the victims are Palestinians they literally get away with murder and with everything else. The government, the occupation is complicit in these crimes, they not only engage in cover-ups, they also encourage them by granting these settlers protection and immunity from accountability or prosecution. They give them a licence to kill and they become partners in the crime.”

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri declined to say whether there were any leads, citing a gag order that has been clamped on the investigation. But Zuheir Baloul, an Israeli Arab politician from the opposition Zionist Union party, criticised the authorities. “The Israeli security forces, which boast about exceptional intelligence, advanced weaponry and glorious spy agencies cannot bring to justice a few small and miserable murderers. This is infuriating, but mostly embarrassing,” he said.

The UN envoy to the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, said he was “concerned by the lack of progress in identifying and prosecuting the perpetrators of this outrage”.

In the aftermath of the attack, three right-wing extremists were placed in administrative detention without trial for six months. But authorities have not specified if they played a role in the Duma deaths. “We will find them and bring them to justice,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev said of the killers. “We are committed to doing so and we will deliver.”