Recognise Palestine – End the occupation! – is the way to respond to Israeli war crimes

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Marchers in London condemning Israeli war crimes in Gaza
Marchers in London condemning Israeli war crimes in Gaza

PALESTINIAN Authority security forces plan to crack down on acts of terrorism carried out by Israeli settlers living in the occupied West Bank, an official said Saturday.

Security spokesman Adnan Dmeiri said: ‘We will take legal procedures and do everything we can do against the Israeli settlers as war criminals who committed crimes against humanity.’ When asked about practical steps expected to be taken by the Palestinian Authority (PA) forces against settlers who commit violent acts against Palestinians, Dmeiri said: ‘We consider them wanted by the Palestinian security.’

His statements come a day after Israeli settlers carried out an arson attack in the occupied West Bank village of Doma that left 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha dead. An autopsy report later confirmed the infant had been burned alive and left Dawabsha’s mother, father, and four-year-old brother with severe burns over the majority of their bodies. Dmeiri did not elaborate further on how the PA security forces would carry out plans to access or prosecute Israeli settlers for attacks, and highlighted his doubt that the Israeli government will take legal procedures against them.

‘The Israeli government supports settlers financially, helps provide houses for them and provides them with arms, so how can this government take legal procedures against them?’ Dmeiri asked.

Hospital officials told the Middle East Eye outlet that Ali’s father Saad, mother Reham and four-year-old brother Ahmed all suffered serious wounds and remained in a critical condition.

The online news portal cited a hospital spokesperson near Tel Aviv, where Reham and Ahmed are being treated, describing their condition as life-threatening. A southern Israeli hospital spokesperson, where Saad is being treated for third-degree burns, said the father’s condition was critical. A family relative and next door neighbour who witnessed the torching told Israeli media he saw two masked men standing next to the house.

The extremist attack and the toddler’s death sparked public outrage and demonstrations in the West Bank, in which Israeli forces shot a Palestinian teenager who later died from the wounds. A second teen was reportedly killed by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip. Adnan Dmeiri has written on his personal Facebook page that by supporting settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Israeli government is supporting terrorism. We demand that the world and America – who always sides with Israel – to label settler organisations as terrorist organisations,’ Dmeiri wrote.

Widespread condemnation by Israeli leaders and the US of Friday’s arson attack as ‘terrorism’ was rejected by the Palestinian leadership and rights groups as empty. ‘Official condemnations of this attack are empty rhetoric as long as politicians continue their policy of avoiding enforcement of the law on Israelis who harm Palestinians, and do not deal with the public climate and the incitement which serve as backdrop to these acts,’ Israeli rights group B’Tselem said.

Under what the group has called an ‘undeclared policy of the Israeli authorities in response to these attacks as lenient and conciliatory,’ Israeli perpetrators of attacks are rarely tried and elementary police investigations are often never started. ‘In light of this, the clock is ticking in the countdown to the next arson attack, and the one after,’ the group added.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas vowed on Friday to take the death of 18-month-old Dawabsha to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The case will join several brought against Israel by Palestinian leadership to the ICC, including charges of war crimes by Israeli forces during last summer’s war in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Minister of Justice Saleem Saqa has announced the results of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha’s postmortem report, which confirmed the toddler was alive when burnt to death.

In a press statement, Saqa reported soot had been found in Ali’s respiratory canal, which meant he had inhaled this material while he was burnt alive. The toddler’s body was charred and his features were indistinguishable. Parts of his ribcage and lung were melted and charred. The cause of death as revealed by the autopsy report is severe fire burns and their complications.

Saqa described the killing of Dawabsha as heinous and is the result of the Israeli government’s far-right policy that supports settlers and their terrorism, settlements’ expansion and incitement against Arabs, which lead to increasing violence and tension in the region. The minister has ordered the forensic crew to investigate the killing and determine the cause of death in order to document the crime and take the appropriate legal steps at international forums. He called on Palestinian families to cooperate with forensic teams to be able to carry out their work in performing the autopsy, which helps document such cases and assists in filing lawsuits and trying the criminals.,

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official, who monitors settlement activities in the West Bank, said Israeli settlers from nearby illegal settlements deliberately started the arson. Daghlas said a group of masked people, most likely settlers, attacked the two homes closest to the village’s entrance. They smashed the window of the bedroom in one house and tossed a firebomb inside, burning the premises and killing the toddler.

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov Friday said the crime in which a toddler was brutally killed ‘reinforces the need for an immediate resolution of the conflict and an end to the occupation.’

In a press statement, he strongly condemned the arson attack in the Occupied West Bank’s village of Duma, south of Nablus and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Mladenov said, ‘I am outraged by this vicious arson attack by suspected Jewish extremists in the Occupied West Bank village of Duma near Nablus, which killed Palestinian toddler, Ali, critically injured his mother and father and injured his four-year old sibling. My thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims.’

He called for ‘a full and prompt investigation to bring the perpetrators of this terrorist crime to justice.’ Mladenov suggested the murder was carried out for a political objective and that all sides must not permit such acts to allow hate and violence to bring more personal tragedies and to bury any prospect of peace.

Minister of Health Jawad Awad confirmed that the health condition of Saad and Riham Dawabsha, parents of burnt to death 18-month-old Ali, is extremely critical as they remain under intensive care. Awad said in a press statement that Ali’s family was first moved to hospitals in Nablus, but were later transferred to hospitals in Israel. The father was transferred to Soroka Medical Centre in Israel, while the mother and her other son, Ahmad were transferred to Tel HaShomer medical Centre. While the condition of 4-year-old Ahmad is stable, his parents remain under intensive care to monitor their critical injuries.

Norway joined in the unanimous international criticism of Israel’s decision to construct 800 new housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende said in a press release: ‘This is incompatible with the support Israel has declared for a two-state solution, and casts doubt once again on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu government’s commitment to the peace process.’

On Wednesday July 29th, Netanyahu’s government announced that it will allow the construction of 300 new housing units in the settlement Beit El in the West Bank and up to 500 more units in East Jerusalem, in both cases on occupied Palestinian territory. Both the United Nations and the International Court of Justice in The Hague declared the areas captured by Israel in the 1967 war as occupied territory and that in allowing settlers in the occupied territory Israel is violating international law.

Brende said: ‘The building of settlements on occupied Palestinian territory violates international law and is an ever greater obstacle to a two-state solution.’ He expressed his concern about what Norway perceives as an increasingly confrontational approach on the part of the Israeli settlers. The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday condemned Israeli settlers’ setting fire to the house of a Palestinian family at dawn in Duma village, south of Nablus, and burning to death an 18-month-old toddler and injuring his family.

Egyptian ambassador and spokesperson Bader Abd al-Ati conveyed in a press statement the Egyptian government and its people’s condolences to the family of the killed toddler and wished a speedy recovery for all those who were injured. As the occupying power, Abd al-Ati demanded the Israeli government to take full responsibility for this crime and further called on the international community to increase efforts to provide the Palestinian people with protection.

The Kingdom of Jordan on Friday condemned the heinous murder committed by Israeli settlers at dawn in Duma village, south of Nablus, which resulted in the burning to death of 18-month-old Ali Saeed Dawabsha and the serious injury of his 4-year-old brother, Ahmad. Jordanian Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammad Al Momani said in a press statement this crime is a result of the Israeli government’s denial of Palestinians’ rights and turning its back on fulfilling peace and security in the region.

Al-Momani said Israel, as the occupying power, is fully responsible for this crime and all violations against the Palestinian people, noting that the Israeli government’s priority is settlements’ expansion and denying Palestinians’ their basic rights. The European Union on Friday said the cold-blooded killing of Palestinian toddler Ali Saeed Dawabsha by Israeli settlers highlighted the urgent need for a political solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

In a press release that WAFA received, the EU extended its condolences to the Dawabsha family for their tragic loss and wished a speedy recovery to the mother, father and the sibling of little Ali that were also injured in the arson attack. A full and prompt investigation to bring the perpetrators of this terrible crime to justice is required, demanded the EU. The EU also reiterated its strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy.

President Mahmoud Abbas Friday announced the Palestinian leadership would prepare a file on the murder of 18-month-old Ali Saeed Dawabsha who was burnt to death while sleeping by Israeli settlers, and submit it to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. He described the crime against the Palestinian family as a ‘war crime’ and a ‘crime against humanity’.

He said: ‘What happened in Duma is added to a record of crimes committed by the settlers and the Israeli government, because it sponsors settlement activities and encourages settlers’ actions.’ Abbas questioned the Israeli government’s commitment to end violence, saying the Israeli government would have been able to stop settlers’ violence if it really wanted to do that. There is only one way to answer this latest foul murder by Zionist settlers.

Action must be taken by the UK and US workers to force their governments to recognise the State of Palestine at once, and to order their ally Israel to end the occupation, abandon the settlements, and accept that East Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine, and that all Palestinian refugees have the right to return!