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'Why did they burn a baby alive? What did he do?'

Hours after the terrorist attack that took the life of Palestinian toddler Ali Saad Dawabshe, relatives and friends are still trying to make sense of what happened in the early hours of Friday morning.

Text and photos by Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Palestinian relatives mourn the death of 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe, after he was killed in an arson attack by Jewish settlers, Duma, West Bank, July 31, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian relatives mourn the death of 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe, after he was killed in an arson attack by Jewish settlers, Duma, West Bank, July 31, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

In the hours of the morning, the road leading from Nablus and the nearby settlements to the West Bank village of Duma is empty. Generally, when Palestinians attack Jewish settlers, the army hermetically seals the roads and raids the neighboring villages. Things are different this time around.

Inside Duma, dozens gather around the two homes that were set ablaze in the early hours of Friday morning. In one of them, 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe was burned to death in an attack by Jewish Israelis. His mother, father and four-year-old brother Ahmed were badly wounded.

Dozens of people, locals, journalists, and human rights workers, gathered throughout the day in the Dawabshe house, which was set on fire during the early hours of Friday morning, Duma, West Bank, July 31, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Dozens of people, locals, journalists, and human rights workers, gathered throughout the day in the Dawabshe house, which was set on fire during the early hours of Friday morning, Duma, West Bank, July 31, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The family’s home is almost entirely burned, including the bedroom, the kitchen and part of the living room. It is hard to recognize the remains of furniture or even clothing. Relatives are busy trying to salvage whatever they can. Inside the charred bedroom, relatives have places photographs of Ali on the ground as a makeshift memorial.

Yousef, a paramedic from the nearby village Aqraba, described the events of the morning to +972: “At 2 a.m. we received a report about an incident. I arrived with my ambulance and saw the house engulfed in flames. We evacuated the family to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus. The little boy died and the rest were in such bad condition that we needed to transfer them to Israel. A helicopter came and took them.”

Relatives laid dozens of photos of 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabshe in memorial to the slain toddler, Duma, West Bank, July 31, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Relatives laid dozens of photos of 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabshe in memorial to the slain toddler, Duma, West Bank, July 31, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A relative of the Dawabshe family who lives next door — and whose house was also targeted in the attack — also described the incident: “I woke up from a noise at 2 a.m. Luckily my children were sleeping in Nablus, otherwise they would have been killed,” he explains while pointing at the burned-down bedroom next to the entrance of the house. He walks around the house restlessly, still staring incredulously at the soot-covered walls hours after the attack itself.

“When I woke up,” he continues, “I saw the entire house in flames. They threw something through the window and everything just lit up.”

“I didn’t see who did it,” he adds, pointing at the Hebrew graffiti reading “Revenge” and “Long live the Messiah” scrawled outside the house. “But I have no doubt who is responsible.”

The word 'revenge' is seen graffitied on the wall of the Dawabshe house, Duma, West Bank, July 31, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The word ‘revenge’ is seen graffitied on the wall of the Dawabshe house, Duma, West Bank, July 31, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A new group of people arrives every few minutes — locals, journalists, human rights workers or passersby. One of the residents shouts at them, “This is Israel, look at what they did to us, why did they burn a baby alive? What did he do?”

A veteran Palestinian photographer who made his way from Nablus tells me that this is the first time he has ever seen soldiers stopping settlers on the road. “And me, with my Palestinian license plate — they just let me pass without a problem.”

In West Bank funerals, the body is first brought to the family house, so that the women can part from the deceased. On Friday there was no family to bring the body to, so Ali is taken straight to the mosque in the village center, where hundreds arrived for Friday prayers.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah holds up a photo of slain Palestinian toddler, Ali Saad Dawabshe, Duma, West Bank, July 31, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah holds up a photo of slain Palestinian toddler, Ali Saad Dawabshe, Duma, West Bank, July 31, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah comes to the village, flanked by a large Palestinian police force. The local residents, whose village receives very little attention from the Palestinian Authority, don’t seem too happy with his visit.

Hamdallah marches into the house while looking at the burned walls and the photographs of Ali on the ground. He speaks to the local reporters in Arabic, saying: “We do not accept Netanyahu’s condemnation. The responsibility lies with his government and the settlers that sit in it and incite to kill Palestinians.”

Next a small, quiet protest forms outside the mosque, where around 10 young men carry Hamas flags; Hamdallah’s security prevent them from coming near. After Friday prayers end, approximately 2,000 people march from the mosque to the cemetery, where Ali’s body is buried.

Palestinians in the West Bank village of Duma carry the body of 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabshe after he was slain in an arson attack during the early hours of the morning, July 31, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians in the West Bank village of Duma carry the body of 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabshe after he was slain in an arson attack during the early hours of the morning, July 31, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians mourn during the funeral march for Palestinian baby Ali Saad Dawabshe, Duma, West Bank, July 31, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians mourn during the funeral march for Palestinian baby Ali Saad Dawabshe, Duma, West Bank, July 31, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

At Hawara checkpoint, 20 kilometers from the village at the entrance to Nablus, dozens of young men are burning tires and throwing rocks at soldiers. The army closes the checkpoint, leaving hundreds of cars stuck on both sides. The army shoots tear gas at the protesters, leading to several brush fires.

Palestinians look on at a brush fire caused by tear gas canisters shot by Israeli soldiers during clashes at Hawara checkpoint, July 31, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians look on at a brush fire caused by tear gas canisters shot by Israeli soldiers during clashes at Hawara checkpoint, July 31, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Only a few hours after the arson, another house near Hawara goes up in flames as a result of brush fire. The family manages to escape, while young Palestinians run from the clashes with the soldiers to try and put out the fire until Palestinian firefighters arrived.

Related:
Palestinian baby burned to death in West Bank arson attack
West Bank murder: Leaders fail to address nature of settler violence

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    COMMENTS

    1. Josef

      This was a sickening terrorist act by Israeli extremists. The Israeli state are responsible for the actions of all the settlers in the Occupied Territories within the State of Palestine.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Gordon

      This is who and what you support when you blindly support anything Israel. Not only does this hurt Palestinians but supporting these rabid cockroaches hurts real Israelis as well.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Thank you, Oren Ziv.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Susan O'Neill

      In 1947 after the Jews had claimed that 6 million had died in the holocaust (there were not 6 million Jews living in Europe at the time est. 3.2 million half a million of them went to Israel and more than 1.8 million remained in Europe. The British started arming and training Israelis (then Jews) in 1936. One policeman doing his rounds came across a Palestinian village where a bunch of Israeli “soldiers” were stealthily surrounding it. They went into one of the homes, dragged a little 4 or 5 year old girl out and shot her in the head. They told the terrified villagers who had no guns, to leave by morning. The villagers knew that the “soldiers” would be back to kill more children, as did the policeman who remained hidden in fear of his life. He reported the incident – one of many that British soldiers and police witnessed – and was told they could not interfere because by that time the armed Israelis all trained by the British, outnumbered the garrison and any interference would get them killed. We left Palestine knowing, to our eternal shame, what we had imposed on it’s people. The ethnic cleansing has never ceased in the last 70 years and the voices of the indigenous peoples went unheard. All decent human beings are equally guilty of turning a blind eye to the Israeli terrorist regime’s constant and sustained genocide – over 6 million Palestinians have fled the horrors of Israeli brutality into neighbouring countries. It really doesn’t matter what lies the Israeli right wing psychos employ to justify their cruelty, it can never be justified and must be stopped by whatever means necessary.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Nancy

      This is funny to read and hypocritical as always.How much land is good for the muslims… why all of it on the whole earth. I support ISRAEL and never the DEATH CULT. The Christians living in so called PALESTINE sued to PO for the many murders they have committed and won. Do you think the muslims will now pay them? More muslims murder other muslims then any other people. Keep up the lies but the WHOLE WORLD is watching the muslims and their deeds. Tell the muslims to leave CYPRUS also cowards.

      Reply to Comment
      • Sherri Munnerlyn

        You are a deluded Zionist Israel is an occupying colonizing unlawful regime with no legitimacy under intl law as with all occupiers she will be gone dust in the wind. Amen

        Reply to Comment
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