Tag Archives: Duma

Safeguarding our children

This summer, the day after baby Ali Dawabsheh was burned to death in the West Bank village of Duma, I met Eman Dawabsheh, her husband and their 5 precious boys. Their home, which neighbored Ali’s home, had also whose been firebombed by Israeli settlers and was burned. Fortunately, Eman and her family were not at home. I returned to Duma several times while in Palestine to visit Eman and her boys, spending the night on one occasion and enjoying the warmth and humor of her children. Warmth and humor and children who might have suffered the same fate as Ali, his parents (who later died from their injuries) and his 3-year old brother Ahmed.

I hope you will take a moment an op-ed that Eman wrote about what she and the other residents of Duma need first and foremost: protection for their children–protection they still do not have, despite the recent indictments of the perpetartors.

After extremist settlers killed my neighbors in a West Bank arson attack, we still can’t get the one thing we want from the Israeli military: Protection

By Eman Dawabsheh

In the early hours of July 31, my husband, Mamoun, received a phone call from his brother: Our home in the West Bank village of Duma was on fire. Mamoun and I jumped in our car and drove from Nablus (where we had been spending the night with our five children) to Duma, where we found the first floor of our two-story house entirely decimated by fire.  Our neighbor’s house (Sa’ad and Reham Dawabsheh, distant relatives and close friends) had also been burned. Hebrew graffiti on our walls reading “The Messiah King lives” and “Revenge” indicated that the fire had been set by extremist Israeli settlers.

My immediate family was lucky: We were not at home when the settlers doused the two houses in flammable liquid and threw Molotov cocktails inside. Tragically, Sa’ad, Reham and their two children (18-month-old Ali and 4-year-old Ahmed) were home. By the time Mamoun and I reached Duma, Sa’ad, Reham and Ahmed had been pulled from the blaze, but neighbors were still searching for toddler Ali. His tiny, charred corpse was located in the house soon thereafter.

Read the rest HERE.

Bedroom where firebomb was thrown

A man from Duma peeks into the bedroom in which toddler Ali Dawabsheh was burned to death


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What a Week of Extremist Violence Reveals About Israel

My latest piece in The Nation:

Duma, West Bank–Eman and Mamoun Dawabsheh’s five children might have burned to death in the early morning hours of July 31, when Israeli settlers snuck into Duma, the West Bank village where they live, and tossed firebombs into their home. Fire entirely decimated the room where the boys usually sleep. The heat of the blaze melted the television that 17-year-old Moatasem sometimes falls asleep watching. Fortunately, the family was in Nablus.

Read the rest here.

Ahmed house2

8-year old Ahmed Dawabsheh surveys the burnt remains of his home in the West Bank village of Duma, after it being firebombed by Israeli settlers on July 31

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“We saw the fire eating the house”

“This was the kitchen,” the young man who led my friend Tovah and me to the house told me yesterday as I entered. “The bedroom is in the back.”

The smell of burnt debris penetrated before I had the chance to process what I was seeing. A simple white stucco doorway, charred at the top, led into an interior so thoroughly scorched it was impossible to determine what I was looking at.

I was in the Nablus-area Palestinian village of Duma, where, earlier yesterday morning, Israeli settlers had poured flammable liquid into the window of the home in which I now stood, and then tossed molotov cocktails inside.

The mother (Reham) and the father (Sa’ad) and their 4-year old son (Ahmed) sustained severe burns and are currently fighting for their lives.

Their 18-month old son and brother, Ali Dawabsheh, was burned to death.

The young man led me to the bedroom where the family had been sleeping when the firebombs had been thrown in through the window he now pointed out to me. I stood in the middle of blackened detritus, unsure of whether to photograph, film, or just be in silent witness. I tried to imagine, and then tried not to imagine, the terror that must have gripped Ali’s mother and father when they realized their home was burning around them and their children. I tried to imagine, and then tried not to imagine, the screams of panic that must have emanated. I imagined, and then tried not to imagine, toddler Ali alive, playing, beginning to walk and to talk in this very home whose scorched remains surrounded me.

Hakam Dawabsheh, a distant relative and a teacher in a neighboring village, was one of those who rushed to the house shortly after the blaze began. He had been using internet on his computer at 2:30am when his younger brother alerted him that there was a fire in the village. At first, Hakam assumed it was a grass fire that had grown out of control. Approaching the site of the fire, he heard people screaming that a house was burning.

“We ran as fast as we could, and came here,” Hakam told me, exhaustion and grief etched onto his face. “We saw the fire eating the house.” The parents had already been removed from the inferno before Hakam arrived. But, “[People] said that there is a little boy in [the house.] And many people tried to save the boy but they couldn’t enter the house because of the big fire. And we tried our best but no one could reach the boy.”

Hakam realized that the fire was caused by arson only after he saw the graffiti that had been spray painted on the walls next to the house. “Revenge” and “Long live the messiah.”

“The boy is dead,” Hakam said. “May Allah accept him in the top of paradise.”

Sixteen-year-old Lina, who lives in the house neighboring Ali’s, was sleeping when the smell of the smoke and sounds of shouting and crying woke her. She ran to her roof, where she could see the burning house, the police and emergency vehicles, and her panic-and-grief stricken neighbors. “I was crying,” she said. When I asked her to tell me about Ali, she described him as a kind and sweet 18-month old.

Horrific as this individual incident was, Lina had a point she wanted to make to me, and to the world: violence from Israeli settlers is all too familiar for Palestinians.

“We live this action every day. We want to live. We have children, the same as you. We have people who want to live, the same as you. We are humans, just like you are.  For all those who can hear me: We want to live. We deserve to live…Enough is enough. Enough with war.”

A man from Duma peeks into the bedroom in which toddler Ali Dawabsheh was burned to death

A man from Duma peeks into the bedroom in which toddler Ali Dawabsheh was burned to death

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