Palestinian toddler's family fighting for lives, Israelis protest over hate crimes



JALAZON REFUGEE CAMP, PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, Hossam Ezzedine- The parents and brother of a Palestinian toddler burned to death by suspected Jewish extremists were fighting for their lives Saturday, as Israelis held protests against hate crimes.
The firebombing of the family's home in the occupied West Bank that killed 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha sparked an international outcry over Israel's failure to curb violence by hardline Jewish settlers.



The child's father, Saad, was being treated for third-degree burns at the Soroka hospital in southern Israel, where a spokeswoman described his condition as "critical".
Mother Riham and four-year-old brother Ahmed were at Tel Hashomer hospital near Tel Aviv, where a spokeswoman described their condition as life-threatening.
The family's small brick and cement home in the village of Duma was gutted by fire, and a Jewish Star of David spray-painted on a wall along with the words "revenge" and "long live the Messiah".
That was indicative of so-called "price tag" violence -- a euphemism for nationalist-motivated hate crimes by Jewish extremists.
The arson attack early Friday followed days of tensions over West Bank settlements, with right-wing groups opposing the demolition of two buildings under construction that the Israeli High Court said were illegal.
The demolitions began Wednesday, but Netanyahu just hours later authorised the immediate construction of 300 settler homes in the same area, angering Palestinians.
A delegation of senior Palestinian officials, including Palestine Liberation Organisation secretary general Saeb Erakat, Palestinian Authority security head Majed Faraj and health minister Jawad Awwad visited the Tel Hashomer hospital on Saturday.
Erakat, who is also chief negotiator for peace talks with Israel, reiterated that the Palestinians hold the Israeli government "fully responsible" for the attack on the family.
On Saturday evening, hundreds of Gazans held a candlelight vigil and mock funeral for Dawabsha.
In Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, thousands of Israelis demonstrated against the extremism that bred the Duma attack as well as the stabbing of six participants of a Gay Pride march in Jerusalem on Thursday by an ultra-Orthodox Jew.
"Flames of hatred have spread through our country, flames of violence, of hatred, of false and distorted beliefs," President Reuven Rivlin said in a speech to the crowd in Jerusalem, near the site of the attack that left a 16-year-old girl in critical condition.
- Clashes after funeral -
The killing of the toddler sent Palestinian protesters into the streets across the West Bank, including Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, triggering clashes with the Israeli army.
On Saturday, fresh clashes broke out at Jalazon refugee camp, where the funeral took place of Laith Khaldi, 16, who the army said was shot by soldiers the previous day after hurling a Molotov cocktail.
Hundreds participated in the funeral, with men firing in the air with automatic rifles as the body was taken from the mosque to the cemetery.
"I spent years raising him, and now I am so angry," his mother, Samar Khayatt, told AFP. "He is happy now; he's a martyr and he's next to God, but I am very angry."
A military spokeswoman said around 50 Palestinians threw stones and fire bombs at Israeli forces at Jalazon, who countered with riot dispersal methods.
Near Duma, Israeli forces also responded against around 200 Palestinians throwing stones.
On Saturday morning, Palestinians and Jewish settlers clashed near Kusra in the northern West Bank, trading volleys of stones until the Israeli army declared the area a closed military zone.
In east Jerusalem, around 10 Palestinians were wounded in clashes on Friday night with Israeli police, Palestinian sources said.
On Saturday, two officers were lightly wounded dispersing a riot, police said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the attack on the Dawabsha family as "terrorism in every respect" and vowed to spare no effort in bringing the perpetrators to justice.
But Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said he doubted Israel would provide "true justice" and ordered his foreign minister to file a complaint at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
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Sunday, August 2nd 2015
Hossam Ezzedine with Adel Zaanoun
           


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