Wipe Out the Jewish Terrorist Nest? Nah, We Can’t Reveal Our Sources

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An archive photo from January 2012 showing protesters rallying against the arrests of eight right-wing activists, including Meir Ettinger, whose image is on the poster on the right. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

The three members of the Palestinian family murdered in their home by “unknown perpetrators” deserve a confidential certificate of recognition, the kind undercover agents get when killed in the line of duty. The Dawabshehs didn’t know they were working for Israel’s intelligence services, but they’ve actually made a huge contribution to the country’s security.

Thanks to them, Israel knows who the Jewish terrorists are. Two months after the Dawabshehs were burned alive, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon can proudly report to Israelis and Palestinians that the Jewish terror infrastructure has been uncovered.

It’s a fitting accomplishment for a minister who two decades ago headed Military Intelligence. Ya’alon is entrusted with protecting state secrets, all the more so when it involves protecting the names of intelligence sources.

So he sufficed with a dry report saying Israel knows who carried out the crime in the village of Duma. Israel knows but can’t put the culprits on trial; it doesn’t want its sources to be revealed.

Still, when it comes to the Duma firebombing, the intelligence sources are publicly known. One might sarcastically suggest they’re the members of the Dawabsheh family, who volunteered to be the victims. One might suggest they enticed the terrorists to come to their home, set it on fire and let the Shin Bet security service finally wipe out the Jewish terrorist nest.

The Dawabsheh family: The father, Sa'ad, the mother, Reham and their son, Ali, all killed in an arson attack in their home in the West Bank village of Duma. Credit: Family photo

The Dawabsheh family took the ineptitude of the Israeli intelligence service to heart. After all, it has failed to locate “price tag” activists who strike at innocent Palestinians in revenge attacks. It has had legal problems putting on trial people responsible for uprooting Palestinian olive trees, puncturing Palestinian tires and torching mosques, not to mention those preaching murder in the name of God or the land.

So the family decided to make the ultimate sacrifice to save Israel and its people from the outlaws. In their naveté, the Dawabshehs believed that their deaths would not be in vain.

Members of the family are well aware of Jewish wrath that is not sated until full revenge is exacted. The Mossad spent decades tracking down the murderers of Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Munich Olympics until every last one was wiped out.

In 1982 Israel embarked on an 18-year war in Lebanon because terrorists critically wounded Israel’s ambassador in London. In 2006 Israel went on a revenge campaign in Lebanon over the kidnapping of two soldiers on the border. In 2014 it destroyed parts of Gaza due to the kidnapping and murder of three yeshiva students in the West Bank.

Sa’ad Dawabsheh knew that Israel doesn’t look into the assailants too closely. If it doesn’t have proof, it shoots, carries out “targeted killings,” destroys homes in an effort to flush out the suspects, and demolishes the homes of the parents.

The father of the Dawabsheh household sacrificed himself, his wife Reham and their 18-month-old son Ali. He didn’t expect a revenge campaign against the killers — for homes to be blown up or targeted killings. There’s a limit to what a Palestinian, even one who has sacrificed himself to uncover a Jewish terrorist nest, can ask for. He only wanted the suspects to be put on trial.

Ya’alon understood the dark secret of the Dawabsheh family well. Otherwise it would be impossible to comprehend his clumsy statement where he acknowledged knowing who was responsible for the murders but wouldn’t say who. He later explained there was insufficient evidence to put the perpetrators on trial; the witnesses were burned to death.

As a rule, we’re a country governed by the law, where “suspects without evidence” are subject to detention without trial. But it’s impossible to put some suspects under such administrative detention because they’ll discover we know who they are; they’ll know who our sources are.

None of this was the intention of Sa’ad Dawabsheh, who perhaps only wanted to inform us that Jewish murderers are roaming free. Now we know.

In 10 years, when the only surviving member of the Dawabsheh household, Ahmed, is 14, and maybe even before that, we’ll surely go after him when he has a rock in his hand. We’ll be deeply sorry that those who torched his family’s home didn’t finish the job. We’ll surely know who the perpetrators were.

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