Father of Palestinian Toddler Killed in West Bank Arson Attack Dies

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A Palestinian man who was seriously wounded in last week's West Bank arson attack that saw his 18-month-old son burned to death succumbed to his wounds early Saturday. Thousands attended his funeral in the village of Duma on Saturday afternoon.

Sa'ad Dawabsheh, 32, suffered severe second-degree burns on over 80 percent of his body and was on life support at the Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva for the past week after firebombs were thrown into his home in Duma last Friday, killing his 18-month-old son Ali and seriously wounding his wife and 4-year-old boy.

According to the Israeli hospital administering care to the surviving Dawabsheh family members, Sa'ad's wife and son were still facing life threatening wounds.

The Dawabsheh family: the father Sa'ad, the mother Reham and Ali Saad.Credit: Courtesy

A spokesperson for Hamas called for clashes in West Bank in response to Dawabsheh's death. Writing on his Facebook page, Husam Badran said  "Dawabsheh's death proves the severity of the crime perpetrated by settlers against the family... Nothing will stop these murderous settler attacks [] we cannot wait until they come to our villages Our people in the West Bank have only one choice: that of open and comprehensive confrontation against the occupation," he wrote

Fatah called on Palestinian civilians to join "popular guards' committees" in their villages to guard them from settler aggression. Early morning on Saturday, unknown persons threw two firebombs at a home near Duma, according to Palestinian reports. No casualties were reported. 

Thousands attended Dawabsheh's funerary procession, which departed from Nablus to Duma, after his body is dissected at the city's forensic institute, and several present called for revenge. Dawabsheh was buried at the village's cemetery next to his son Ali, killed in the attack. According to his relatives, they refused an Israeli offer to have his body dissected in Israel.

A man shows a picture of 18-month-old Palestinian toddler Ali Saad Dawabsha who died when his family house was set on fire by Jewish extremists in the West Bank village of Duma on July 31, 2015. Credit: AFP

The Israeli army reported several clashes between Palestinians and security forces erupted during the funeral, but were quelled soon after.

The arson attack, that has been attributed to Israeli extremists and was labeled Jewish terror by top Israeli officials, has fueled unrest in Israel and the Palestinian territories, prompting the government to crackdown on far-right extremists

During his time at the hospital, hundreds of people came to visit Dawabsheh, including senior Israeli officials, and the family has even put up thank you signs in both Hebrew and Arabic to welcome the visitors.  

Palestinian media reported that members of the Dawabsheh family began arriving at the hospital with news of the father's passing and the mayor of Duma told Reuters that preparations were being made for his funeral.

Sa'ad's wife Reham and his son Ahmed were still facing life threatening wounds. Reham is suffering from third-degree burns on 90 percent of her body and is on life support in the intensive care unit of Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer. Four-year-old Ahmed suffered second-degree burns on over 60 percent of his body; he too is hospitalized at Tel Hashomer.

Condemnations

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited with the family after the incident and called the killing of 18-month-old Ali Sa'ad Dawabsheh a terror attack, saying it was "a reprehensible and horrific act of terrorism. The State of Israel takes a strong line against terrorism regardless of who the perpetrators are."

Funeral of Ali Saad Dawabsheh, a Palestinian infant killed in a deadly arson attack in the West Bank, July 31, 2015.Credit: AFP

In a phone call to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas following the incident, Netanyahu said the attack shocked Israelis, adding: "it's upon us to together fight terrorism, no matter which side perpetrates it."

The Palestinian Authority placed the blame on the shoulders of the Israeli government and even filed a report to the International Criminal Court in The Hague over the incident, which it said it sees as part of a larger pattern of settlers' aggression against the Palestinians.

'Jewish terror' at Duma

Damage to the West Bank home of the Daobasa family after Friday's deadly arson attack, July 31, 2015. Credit: Reuters

According to witnesses, at roughly 4 A.M. last Friday morning, two masked men arrived at two homes in the village of Duma, not far from the settlement of Migdalim. They sprayed painted graffiti reading "revenge" and "long live the Messiah" in Hebrew, breaking the windows of the homes and throwing two firebombs inside. One of the two homes was empty at the time.

A relative of the Dawabsheh family told Haaretz that he saw two masked men standing next to Ali's parents as they lay burning on the ground outside their home after the attack.

"This attack against Palestinian civilians is a barbaric act of terrorism," IDF Spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner tweeted soon after the attack. Forces combed the area in an attempt to find the perpetrators.

According to eyewitnesses, the father was able to rescue his wife and 4-year-old son, but could not locate the baby, Ali, in the darkness.

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