Israeli security forces arrest 'head of extremist group' in connection with death of a Palestinian toddler

Ali Saad Dawabsha was burnt alive in his home in the West Bank on Friday

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Israeli security forces have said they are interrogating the suspected head of a Jewish extremist group in connection with their investigation into an arson attack that killed a Palestinian toddler last week.

Israeli security forces have said they are interrogating the suspected head of a Jewish extremist group in connection with an arson attack that killed a Palestinian toddler last week.

The Shin Bet agency did not say whether 23-year-old Meir Ettinger is suspected of involvement in the death of the 18 month old Ali Saad Dawabsha on Friday.

He burnt to death in his home in the West Bank village of Duma. His father, mother and four year old brother escaped the flames but his father was unable to find him in the house because it had no electricity.

Mr Ettinger is believed to be the head of an extremist group seeking religious “redemption” on Christian religious sites and Palestinian homes.

The attackers allegedly daubed a “Price tag slogan”- used by Jewish extremists in the past- and also reportedly sprayed “revenge” and “long live the Messiah” on the walls in Hebrew, according to Haaretz.

The attack was dubbed the worst since the murder of a Palestinian teenager around this time last year in retaliation for the murder of three Israeli teenagers.

firebomb-getty.jpgA 17-year-old, Laith Khaldi, was killed in clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youths during protests against the toddler's death in the Jalazone refugee camp in Ramallah after being shot late on Friday.

The army say Mr Khaldi was had thrown a petrol bomb at the military but Palestinian officials say autopsy records showed he'd been shot in the back.

Israeli politicians have called for claim and opposition leader Isaac Herzog, head of the Zionist Union party, called for a crackdown on Jewish extremism on Saturday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the “terrible criminal act” in the Jerusalem Post saying: “This is a terror attack. Israel deals harshly with terrorism, no matter who the perpetrators are”.

world-in-pic-1.jpg
Palestinian protesters stand amid tear gas smoke during clashes with Israeli security forces following a protest in reaction to the death of the toddler

According to Israeli media, Mr Ettinger is the grandson of Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose ultranationalist political party was banned from Israel’s Knesset for its racist views in 1988.

Rabbi Kahane was assassinated in New York by an Arab gunman in 1990.

Israeli police say Mr Ettinger has been remanded in custody.

Additional reporting by AP