Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over the weekend to fight terrorism together with Israel.
“We must fight terrorism together, regardless of which side it comes from,” Netanyahu told Abbas, when he called him on Friday to offer his condolences over the death of Palestinian toddler Ali Dawabsha, who was burned to death in an arson attack allegedly set by Jewish extremists.
“We have to calm the spirits and recommit ourselves to our joint battle against terrorism and extremism,” the prime minister said. “It’s something that all parts of the Israeli government and all parts of Israeli society agree on. It’s important that we make a common cause with our Palestinian neighbors to give ourselves a better future – a future free of violence, free of terror, a future of peace.”
Netanyahu spoke to the media about the call just after he visited Ali’s brother, Ahmed Dawabsha, who is being treated at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.
Ahmed was seriously injured in the attack, sustaining burns on more than 60% of his body.
“We’re doing everything we can to save this young boy, give him a life,” said Netanyahu.
“His two parents are in other parts of the Israeli health system. We’re trying to give them the best treatment to save their lives.
“When you stand next to the bed of this small child, and his infant brother had been so brutally murdered, we’re shocked, we’re outraged,” he continued. “We condemn this. There is zero tolerance for terrorism wherever it comes from, whatever side of the fence it comes from. We have to fight it and fight it together.”
Netanyahu added that he had ordered security forces to use all measures to locate the murderers and was committed to finding them and bringing them to justice.
President Reuven Rivlin arrived at Sheba Medical Center shortly after Netanyahu’s departure and declared that it was not enough to talk about the need to fight terror – the government and the nation must declare that we will no longer tolerate it
. As painful as the arson in Duma was, he said, it was also shameful.
Early Friday morning, Rivlin took the unusual step of issuing a statement in both Arabic and Hebrew urging everyone on both sides to “not let terror win.” He called on Palestinians and Israeli Arabs to “not succumb to the shock and anger,” and to allow law enforcement authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice. The president also acknowledged that Israel has been lax in its treatment of Jewish terrorists.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon spoke out sharply against Jewish terrorism on Friday.
“We will not allow Jewish terrorists to harm the lives of Palestinians across Judea and Samaria. We will fight them in every way, with every tool at our disposal,” he said.
“This is a most severe terrorist act that we cannot tolerate, and we condemn [it] in every way.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said he is “shocked and concerned following the wave of terrorism rising among us. The murder of a baby is a despicable crime that comes entirely from blind hate that must stop.”
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said he is shocked by the attack, and said the perpetrators “must end their lives behind bars.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) said the attack “is not a hate crime and not ‘Price Tag,’ it is murder.”
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) wrote on Facebook that “whoever burns a baby in his bed is not human. Condemnation is not enough. This is the time for action, not speech.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) called the attack in Duma “terrorism of the worst kind.” Writing on Facebook, Herzog said Israelis “must wear sackcloth and ashes and have a time of national mourning.”
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid reacted to both the Duma attack and Thursday’s stabbing at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade by saying: “We are at war.”
“Whoever burns a Palestinian baby has declared war on Israel. Whoever attacks with a knife our youths at the Gay Pride has declared war on Israel,” he wrote on Facebook on Friday. “They are the natural partners of Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS. They betray all that is sacred to us... they are Jewish traitors.”
In a statement, the Joint List said the attack is “a war crime in addition to the increasing crimes of the Israeli occupation that are backed by a fascist atmosphere.”
“The Netanyahu government’s racist and extremist policies encourage extremists and terrorists to continue hate crimes against Palestinians,” a party spokesman stated.
The international community also condemned the attack.
“We convey our profound condolences to the Dawabsha family and extend our prayers for a full recovery to those injured,” the US State Department said. “We welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu’s order to Israel’s security forces to use all means at their disposal to apprehend the murderers for what he called an act of terrorism and bring them to justice,” it said. “We urge all sides to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this tragic incident.”
The EU called the attack “a tragic reminder of the dramatic situation in the region that highlights the urgent need for a political solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”
“A full and prompt investigation to bring the perpetrators of this terrible crime to justice is required,” it said. The EU added that the Israeli authorities should take resolute measures to protect the local population.
“We call for full accountability, effective law enforcement and zero tolerance for settler violence,” the EU said. “Acts like this terrible attack can easily lead to a spiral of violence and bring both sides further away from a negotiated solution.”