Socialist Worker

Israel’s racist society caused the West Bank arson murder

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2465

Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank

Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank (Pic: Tal King on Flickr)

Israeli settlers burned an 18-month-old Palestinian baby to death in an arson attack in the early hours of Friday morning last week.

Ali Dawabshe was killed in his sleep after his home in the Palestinian village of Duma, in the occupied West Bank, was firebombed.

Ali’s autopsy found that his “body was completely blackened, his features had melted, parts of his extremities disintegrated from the burns, while parts of the lungs and rib cage had melted.”

Ali’s father Sa’ad, his mother Reham and his four-year-old brother Ahmad are still in intensive care with life-threatening burns.

The two attackers are said to have fled in the direction of the illegal Israeli settlement Esh Kodesh, which is close to the village.

They also spray painted the walls of the house with the words “Revenge” and “Long live the king messiah” alongside a Star of David.

The killing followed a knife attack on an LGBT pride march in Jerusalem last Thursday. 

Six marchers were injured, including 16-year-old woman Shira Banki, who later died in hospital.

The attacker, Yishai Schlissel, had been released from prison three weeks earlier after stabbing three people at Jerusalem Pride in 2005.

Israel likes to promote itself as an LGBT-friendly haven surrounded by homophobic Arab regimes.

But both attacks show the bigotry and racism that lie at the heart of Israeli society.

Israeli president Reuven Rivlin condemned the attacks last Saturday. 

He received a slew of death threats from members of the Israeli right.

And photographs have emerged of graffiti signed by supporters of football team Jerusalem FC which hails Schlissel as “the man”.


Rivlin had asked, “What is it about the public atmosphere that allows extremism and extremists to walk in confidence, in broad daylight?”

The answer lies with the Israeli state—and the racism and bigotry it uses to justify its repression of the Palestinians.

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu also condemned the firebombing. 

But he used it to attack the Palestinian Authority for not punishing Palestinians who resist the Israeli occupation.

And 16-year-old Laith Khaldi was shot dead by Israeli soldiers on one of the protests that followed Ali’s murder.  

Netanyahu won the Israeli election earlier this year by ramping up anti-Arab racism.

Settler attacks on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are frequent.

They are a direct result of the Israeli occupation, which aims to drive Palestinians off their land.

Just two days before Ali was killed, Netanyahu approved the construction of hundreds of settlement houses in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

That’s why Ali’s uncle Nasser Dawabshe pinned the blame  on the Israeli state.

He said, “This is a government that encourages settlers who all the time cry  ‘Death to the Arabs’.

“This is why this government is part of the incitement.”

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