Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that his government will lodge an official complaint against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the death of an 18-month-old baby in the West Bank village of Duma. The toddler, who died when his house was burned down by suspected Jewish settlers, was laid to rest earlier Friday.
“When the Israeli government encourages settlements everywhere, they're also encouraging these thugs to carry out these attacks. This is a war crime and a tragedy for all of us,” Abbas reportedly said. “We want true justice, but I doubt that Israel will provide that.”
The attackers, who are yet to be identified, hurled Molotov cocktails at the house and also spray-painted graffiti that read “revenge” and “long live the messiah” on the walls during the attack early Friday. According to witnesses interviewed by Al Jazeera, at least four settlers were seen fleeing the scene after the attack.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the “reprehensible and horrific act” and said that his government was committed to finding the perpetrators and “bringing them to justice.”
The United Nations also denounced the “terrorist act” in a statement released Friday.
“The absence of a political process and Israel's illegal settlement policy, as well as the harsh and unnecessary practice of demolishing Palestinian houses, have given rise to violent extremism on both sides,” a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, in the statement. “Continued failures to effectively address impunity for repeated acts of settler violence have led to another horrific incident involving the death of an innocent life. This must end.”
Friday’s incident is believed to be a “price tag” attack -- carried out by extremist settlers against Palestinian residents of the West Bank in retaliation to Israeli government’s actions against illegal settlements. Estimates by the U.N. show that the annual rate of Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians nearly quadrupled in the past eight years.
Also on Friday, the Islamist group Hamas, which is the governing body in the Gaza Strip, called for “a day of fury in response to the relentless Zionist assaults.”
“We ask our sons in the West Bank to stand vociferously against these crimes and to respond to the occupation with whatever means are at hand,” Hamas spokesman Abd al-Rahman Shadid reportedly said.