Palestinian house set on a fire in Israeli settler attack

Charred cars in the West Bank village of Duma, in the aftermath of an Israeli settler attack in April [GETTY]

A Palestinian house in the occupied West Bank was set on fire overnight on Saturday in a suspected settler ‘revenge attack’, as settler violence continues to surge in the wake of the Gaza war.

An empty house in Duma, south of Nablus, was fire-bombed by unknown perpetrators and covered in Hebrew graffiti. No injuries were reported.

The attack is just the latest in a series of violence against Duma which was sparked following the death of a 14-year-old Israeli shepherd boy who went missing in the West Bank on 12 April.

The arson attack adds to nearly 800 settler assaults against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since 7 October and the start of the Gaza war, according to UN figures.

The house’s walls were vandalised with Hebrew graffiti reading: ‘Price tag – 30 days since Binyamin died’, according to Israeli media reports.

The graffiti is an apparent reference to Benjamin Achimeir, the shepherd boy who was found dead a day after disappearing while grazing sheep near the illegal settler outpost of Malachie Shalom.

The incident triggered a wave of aggression from Israeli settlers who descended on the Palestinian village of al-Mughayyir near Malachie Shalom, causing chaos and setting fire to vehicles and buildings.

One Palestinian man and dozens of others were injured by the violence.

Duma has been subject to repeated attacks in response to the reports of the missing Israeli boy. Hundreds of settlers stormed the village on 13 April and burnt some 15 homes, with numerous residents injured by gunshots.

The head of the village council told AP that the attack caused an estimated $1 million worth of damage.

Saturday’s arson attack has eery echoes of a similar attack on the village in 2015, when three Palestinians, an 18-month-old baby and their parents, were killed when settlers fire-bombed their home. An Israeli man was later convicted of murder.

At least ten Palestinians have been killed in direct settler-led attacks since October, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, known as OCHA.

But nearly 500 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since then, either by Israeli forces or settlers, according to the Palestinian health ministry. People have been displaced from 20 communities and at least seven communities have been uprooted by settlers since 7 October.

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are under increasing vulnerability from violent settlers who have been emboldened by far-right members of the Israeli government.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has openly called for violence against Palestinians and the expansion of settlements, considered illegal under international law.

Ben-Gvir, himself a settler, has also authorised 100,000 gun licenses for Israeli nationals, many to those in West Bank settlements, since October.

Israeli rights groups have also noted the low rate of prosecution for settler attacks and the army’s role in neglecting to intervene or halt the violence.

Israel’s Western allies have issued sanctions against a handful of extremist settlers in recent months, but critics have said the sanctions do not address the root of the violence.

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