Middle East

Israel arrests youths over fatal West Bank arson attack

Saad, Ali and Riham Dawabsha Image copyright EPA
Image caption Saad, Ali and Riham Dawabsha were killed when their home was firebombed four months ago

Israeli authorities have arrested several youths in connection with a fatal arson attack on a Palestinian family's home in the West Bank.

The Shin Bet security agency said the youths were believed to be affiliated with a Jewish terrorist organisation.

The killing of Saad and Riham Dawabsha and their 18-month-old son, Ali, in the village of Duma four months ago provoked international condemnation.

Another son, four-year-old Ahmed, is still being treated for his wounds.

Palestinians blamed militant Jewish settlers, who have carried out acts of vandalism and arson attacks as retribution for actions taken by the Israeli government against settlements and for violence by Palestinians.

Gagging order

The Dawabsha family were sleeping in their home when it was firebombed early on 31 July, and daubed with slogans in Hebrew, including the word "revenge".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The attack in the West Bank angered Palestinians and shocked Israelis
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The word "revenge" was daubed on the wall of the Dawabsha family home

Ali Dawabsha was killed in the fire, while his mother and father succumbed to their wounds later in hospital. Ahmed remains in a serious condition in hospital.

The attack was condemned by Palestinian and Israeli leaders, who called it an "act of terrorism".

A Shin Bet spokesman said the youths arrested in recent days were "suspected of belonging to a Jewish terror organisation and carrying out terror attacks".

They were being questioned over the attack in Duma, the spokesman added.

The investigation has been subject to a court gagging order, though Palestinians have expressed frustration at what they say has been its slow progress.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The UN expressed concern on Wednesday at the apparent slow progress on the case

On Wednesday, UN Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov called on Israel to "move swiftly in bringing the perpetrators of this terrible crime to justice".

"It is essential that all firmly and consistently reject terrorism and act decisively to stop hatred and incitement," he said in a statement.

Following the attack, the Israeli government approved the use of administrative detention - a procedure under which a military court can order suspects to be detained indefinitely without charge or trial - for suspected Jewish terrorists.

Three Jewish suspects are currently being held in administrative detention, but none have been publicly linked to the Duma firebombing.