Jibril Rajoub, former Palestinian Authority security chief in the West Bank and still a highly influential figure there, said Tuesday that PA troops are committee to preventing revenge attacks for last Friday's murder of year-and-a-half-old Ali Saad Dawabsheh. Israeli authorities, not to mention Palestinians, presume the arson murder was carried out by settler terrorists.
Referring to an emergency meeting of the PA leadership following the killing, Rajoub told the Israeli website ynet, "The majority of the meeting's attendees spoke against incitement for revenge. If there was a plan to have the PLO push the Palestinian street towards clashes, the current situation would be very different. But the decision was clear, and the commanders of the security services were present, understood the tone, and their instructions."
Since the infant's murder, a firebomb was thrown at an Israeli car in East Jerusalem, injuring three people; an Israeli car in the West Bank was shot at but not hit; and clashes broke out between small Palestinian groups and IDF soldiers, who killed one of the participants. But given the magnitude of the arson attack in West Bank village Duma – in addition to the toddler's death, his 4-year-old brother and parents were critically wounded – the Palestinian reaction on the street has been muted. By contrast, the murder-by-burning last July of East Jerusalem teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir set off large-scale riots in East Jerusalem that lasted into this year. A crucial, perhaps decisive difference is that the Israel Police are in charge of security in East Jerusalem, while the Palestinian Authority handles security in the cities, villages and refugee camps of the West Bank.
Rajoub, who as head of the Palestine Football Association sought unsuccessfully in May to get FIFA to suspend Israel from its ranks, placed ultimate blame for the killing on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the government.
"Netanyahu and his right wing government are responsible, and stand behind every act of terror in the West Bank," said Rajoub. "They incite and provide funding, security, and support to the 'price tag' bullies."
He said he expects the Shin Bet to capture the perpetrators, but that they will get off easy. "I think that they have an interest to capture the attackers," Rajoub said, "but the question is if they have the ability to deal with [senior right-wing cabinet ministers] Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett. Will they really destroy the homes of those who killed the little baby? No. He will be placed in a five-star facility until someone comes along and pardons him."
At the same time, though, Rajoub said he was heartened by the reaction from Israeli society at large. "I very much appreciate all the condemnations that were expressed by Israeli society," he said. "It makes me hopeful that the Israeli people have rejected this heinous crime that was committed in Duma."