Arsonists attempt to burn down home in Far’ata

Police investigating possibility incident in Palestinian village was a ‘price tag’ attack.

Jerusalem fire 370 (photo credit: Melanie Lidman)
Jerusalem fire 370
(photo credit: Melanie Lidman)
Police have opened an investigation into the attempted arson of a Palestinian home in the West Bank village of Far’ata late Monday night. Police said the investigation is examining all possible angles, including the possibility that the act was a “price tag” attack on Palestinians by Jewish extremists.
Police said no arrests have been made so far in connection with the attempted arson, which charred the entryway of a family’s home. The IDF said following the attack that they had launched a search of the area to no avail, and then turned the investigation over to police.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said Tuesday it is assisting police in the investigation.
Itidal Tawil and her three children were in their house in the village when unknown assailants tried to set the house on fire at 12:10 a.m. Tuesday morning.
“I was watching TV and it was very noisy when my brother-in-law called me to warn us about the fire,” she told the The Jerusalem Post.
Tawil said she believes that if not for her husband and her uncle, who immediately noticed the attack, things could have been much worse.
She locked her children in a room and went out to her house’s burning gate, as relatives and neighbors came to help put out the fire. She did not want her children to know she believed the fire was an assault by settlers, and concocted a story of a burned rag.
“Karam, my two year old, was shivering two days ago when he heard settlers shooting towards us, and keeps wanting to sit on my lap,” she said as her children could be heard shouting in the background.
Nevertheless, her five- and seven-year-old daughters heard their cousins talking about the attack. “Why did settlers want to hurt us?” seven-year-old Rasha asked her mother.
Though Monday night’s attack was unusual for the village, residents told the Post they often encounter violence from settlers living in the Havat Gilad outpost a few hundred meters from the village.
Awwad Tawil, whose nephew Fariz Tawil’s house was hit in the attack, said he and his nephew were walking back to their homes from an Id al-Fitr visit when they spotted two men carrying a large can of garbage near their house.
“We thought they were collecting garbage or something,” Awwad Tawil said, adding that when they saw the two men pouring diesel fuel on the house’s gate, they realized the home was under attack.
Awwad Tawil described the incident to the Post shortly after he returned from the police station in the West Bank settlement of Kedumim Tuesday afternoon.
The nearest villagers were 150 meters away from the house, which allowed the two assailants to escape before they arrived.
“We found another 10 masked men hiding in a neighboring, uninhabited house,” Awwad said, adding that the group of men ran away in the direction of Havat Gilad.
The family was able to extinguish the fire in 35 minutes and no one was injured. Awwad said he called an activist from NGO B’Tselem who, in turn, called the Israeli Civil Administration in Nablus.
He told the Post that the IDF arrived 35 minutes after the attack to investigate the incident, adding that “they usually take less time than that.”
After visiting the police station in Kedumim to give his testimony, Awwad said police officials told him they arrested the assailants, which contradicts what police reported to the press on Tuesday.
He said police informed him that he is allowed to detain attackers until the IDF comes, provided he does not harm them– or else he will face jail-time. The 50-year-old added, “I told them [police]: Even if I can contain myself, others won’t have the patience [not to harm the assailants].”
Awwad said people are usually cautious of such assaults as they have been victims of violence, saying that his house and family were regular targets for attacks over the past five years. “Recently, I installed surveillance cameras around my house, so they have avoided me and started going around my house.”
Itidal Tawil, 25, says the burned gate outside her house still smelled of diesel, as did some small trees and flowers she planted in her garden. She expressed fear of leaving her house unattended: “My family lives in neighboring Bidya village and has asked me to go there, but I refused.”
Itidal said she believes in fate and God’s will, but she also believes that if she remains in her home, she can protect it against future attacks.
Monday’s attack came a few days after unknown assailants threw a Molotov cocktail at a Palestinian taxi carrying six members of the same family, outside the settlement of Bat Ayin. Two members of the family remain hospitalized at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem with severe burns.