US/World News

West Bank settlements hit by fires

(JTA) – Dozens of residents of a West Bank settlement were evacuated from their homes after inhaling smoke from a brush fire suspected of being set by Palestinians. Thirty residents of Beit Hagai, a settlement in the Hebron Hills, were treated for smoke inhalation Friday, July 31, the Jerusalem Post reported. The fire is believed to be a revenge attack for the deadly fire that killed a Palestinian toddler and injured his family Thursday, July 30. Thursday’s fire, allegedly started by Jewish extremists, has been widely condemned by Palestinian and Israeli leaders and has triggered rioting throughout the West Bank. Similar fires were also reported in Yitzhar, another West Bank settlement, and there are also reports throughout the West Bank of Palestinians hurling rocks at Israeli motorists.

The attacks occurred hours after the burial of Ali Saad Dawabsha, an 18-month-old baby who died in a fire started by unidentified individuals at his home in the Nablus-area village of Duma. The arsonists left Hebrew-language graffiti about revenge at the site, and Israeli police suspect Jewish extremists caused the fire.

Several of Dawabsha’s relatives, including his parents, were injured in the fire. His older brother has burns in 60 percent of his body. The arson occurred amid a string of violent attacks by Jewish extremists, including a fatal stabbing at the Jerusalem gay pride parade Thursday, July 30, and the torching last month of a church in the Galilee.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who visited the Dawabsha family at the Israeli hospital where several of them are recovering, spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the phone Friday and said that everyone in Israel was shocked by the “reprehensible terrorism against the Dawabsha family,” his office wrote in a statement. “We must fight terrorism together regardless of which side it comes from,” said Netanyahu, adding that he had ordered the security forces to use all measures to locate the murderers.

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