Israel today indicted four Jewish extremists suspected in a July arson attack on a Palestinian home that killed a toddler and his parents - a case that has been unsolved for months and helped fuel the current wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
The long-awaited indictment follows months of investigations into a web of Jewish extremists operating in the West Bank. The indictment named Amiram Ben-Uliel, 21, as the main suspect in the attack. A minor was charged as an accessory. Yinon Reuveni, 20, and another minor were charged for other violence against Palestinians.
The arson attack in the West Bank village of Duma killed 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh, while his mother, Riham, and father, Saad, later died of their wounds. Ali’s 4-year-old brother Ahmad survived.
The firebombing, carried out under cover of darkness while the family slept, sparked soul-searching among Israelis rattled by the horrific attack.
It was condemned across the Israeli political spectrum and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged “zero tolerance” in the fight to bring the assailants to justice. Israel has authorised a series of steps, including administrative detention, to try and crack the case.
But for months, Palestinians watched angrily as the case remained unsolved, intensifying a feeling of skewed justice in the occupied territory, where suspected Palestinian militants are prosecuted under a separate system of military law that gives them few rights.
The arson also touched on Palestinian fears of extremist Jewish settlers, who have attacked Palestinian property with impunity.
Palestinians cite the Duma incident as a factor in the three-month wave of attacks and clashes roiling the region, saying they are frustrated by years of unchecked settler violence.
Israel’s Shin Bet security service says the suspects admitted to carrying out the attack, saying it was in retaliation for the killing of an Israeli a month earlier. It said all the suspects were part of a group of extremists that had carried out a series of attacks over the years and whose goal was to undermine the state.