Palestinian toddler burned to death in suspected Jewish ‘price tag’ attack

A suspected “price tag,” or retaliation, arson attack by right-wing Jewish settlers killed an 18-month-old Palestinian child in a house in the occupied West Bank and injured several other people, according to Israeli police.

The toddler died in a house fire which broke out in a village of Kafr Duma near the West Bank city of Nablus, Reuters reports.

The victim’s four-year-old brother and both parents were also injured and have been brought to the hospital. The attack took place in the early hours of the morning when the family was fast asleep and could not react immediately.

The information available at this stage suggests that two arsonists broke the windows and threw Molotov cocktails inside two houses, RT’s Paula Slier reports from Tel Aviv. The house inhabited by the injured family was burned out from the inside. The neighboring house was also seriously damaged by fire, but it was luckily empty at the time.

The arsonists left inscriptions on the wall, saying “Long live the Messiah” and “Revenge” on the wall of the house.

The infamous “price tag” tactic is typically used by Jewish extremists attacking Palestinian homes, Christian churches, mosques and government buildings because they believe the Israeli government is not doing enough to support their cause. The price tag attacks also take place in response to Palestinian attacks on Jewish settlements.

"I am in shock from this criminal and terrible act," Aruts Sheva quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying Friday morning. "We are talking about terrorism in every respect."

PM Netanyahu said that the perpetrators of the attack would be brought to book.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has put the blame for the attack on the Israeli government. Abbas said that such incidents would not happen if the Tel Aviv government hadn’t supported the expansion of settlements. He also criticized the international community for its silence, vowing that this incident and other similar ones would be brought before the International Criminal Court.

There are growing concerns on the ground that this attack could spark widespread violence. Hamas has already called on its supporters to make Friday a “day of rage.”

“This attack against civilians is nothing short of a barbaric act of terrorism,” Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Force said. “A comprehensive investigation is under way in order to find the terrorists and bring them to justice.”

He added: “The IDF strongly condemns this deplorable attack and has heightened its efforts in the field to locate those responsible.”

The death of a child will inevitably aggravate Israeli-Palestinian tensions at the time when the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pursues the controversial settlement expansion policy in the occupied territories.

READ MORE: Israel approves building of 300 new ‘illegitimate’ West Bank homes amid demolition protests

Just this Wednesday, Netanyahu approved the construction of 300 new homes in the central West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit El despite international condemnation. US State Department responded by a statement criticizing the “illegitimate” construction.

However, Israeli authorities have, at the same time, disgruntled some of the Jewish settlers in Beit El, as the Supreme Court has ordered that two blocks of houses illegally built on the Palestinian-owned land in the same area be torn down. The demolition sparked fierce resistance, with settlers protesting and clashing with police on Tuesday.

ARCHIVE: Palestinians watch Israeli heavy machinery demolishing apartment blocks in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit El near Ramallah July 29, 2015. © Mohamad Torokman

Jewish extremists often respond to anti-settler measures with attacks ranging from graffiti and minor vandalism to destruction of property and arson. In June, the Catholic Church of the Multiplication, erected on the spot where Jesus is believed to have performed the Biblical miracle of loaves and fishes, was defaced with Hebrew graffiti and torched. Sixteen Jewish youths visiting the area from the West Bank were detained and questioned in connection with the incident, but later set free.

READ MORE: ​Israel questions, sets free 16 young Jewish settlers after Christian church burned down