DUMA, West Bank — The severely burned father of a Palestinian toddler who was killed in an arson attack died of his wounds early Saturday, and thousands of Palestinians came to bury him in this West Bank village gripped by grief, anger and fear.
The man, Saad Dawabsheh, 32, died in the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba eight days after his 18-month-old son, Ali, was killed in the fire that consumed the small family home.
Dr. Motti Klein, who runs the intensive care unit at the hospital, said in a statement that Mr. Dawabsheh had arrived in critical condition, with severe burns covering 80 percent of his body.
His badly burned wife, Riham, 27, and their other son, Ahmad, 4, remained in another Israeli hospital on Saturday with life-threatening injuries, though doctors said that Ahmad’s condition had improved somewhat and that he was now able to communicate with those around him.
“May God punish those who did this to my family,” said Mr. Dawabsheh’s mother, Rihab, 65, as she sat surrounded by women before the funeral. The night before, she said, she had dreamed that she was celebrating her son’s recovery and return home.
Jewish extremists are suspected in the July 31 firebombing, which was described as a terrorist attack by both Israeli and Palestinian politicians. Hebrew graffiti, including the word “Revenge!” next to a Star of David, had been sprayed on a nearby wall. The episode, perhaps the most shocking in a summer that has been marked by repeated violence, prompted an outpouring of emotion and condemnation on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide and around the world.
The Israeli authorities have since cracked down on a shadowy group of Jewish radicals who are suspected of involvement in violence against Palestinians, but so far no one has been charged in connection with the arson attack on the Dawabsheh home.
During the funeral procession, youths waved the flags of rival Palestinian political factions in a sign of unity and defiance against the Israeli occupation.
Relatives of Mr. Dawabsheh and residents of Duma, where many share the same last name, described him as a family man who had no enemies. They said that since the attack, residents had been guarding the village at night, fearing a repeat attack by Jewish settlers.
“Now they have started a war with us,” said Ibrahim Dawabsheh, 17, who is out of school and unemployed, adding, “Are we going to live like this for the rest of our lives?”
Some of the villagers spoke of revenge, and Israelis were already pointing to a rise in tensions. In recent days, an Israeli woman was injured when her car was firebombed in East Jerusalem, and three Israeli soldiers were injured when a Palestinian driver plowed into them in the West Bank in what Israeli officials said was a deliberate attack.
But Nasser Dawabsheh, the brother of the man who died Saturday, said he hoped that all Palestinians would be able to live in peace, and that the perpetrators would be caught. “I pray that justice will prevail,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel issued a statement at the end of the Sabbath expressing “deep sorrow” over the death of Mr. Dawabsheh, adding, “We will not countenance terrorism of any kind.”
Rami Nazzal reported from Duma, and Isabel Kershner from Jerusalem. Diaa Hadid contributed reporting from Ramat Hasharon, Israel.
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(via NY Times)