Duma

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Observers: 
Natalie Cohen, Haya Ginton, Neomi Bentzur (reporting), Nadim (driver)
23/03/2016
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Morning

9:30 Tapuah Intersection. The police vehicle is in its permanent place, at the entrance to the intersection. There are no soldiers on the site.

10:00 Duma

On the night between Saturday and Sunday this week, there again was a fire in the house of a family in Duma. This time the target was the flat of Ibrahim, 23 years old, a newlywed,  the only one of all the villagers who saw with his own eyes the settlers who burned down the house of the Dawabshe family in July 2015. He and his young wife managed to extricate themselves from this new fire.  While the home of the Dawabshe family was probably chosen randomly, the fire at Ibrahim's house was intentional: an attempt to  murder the only witness, whose testimony at the trial would be a significant component in the incrimination of the settlers who were arrested.

Our first destination was the council house. There we meet our acquaintance Z. He is tense and agitated. He tells us that since the arson attack on the Dawabshe family, Ibrahim has been taken many times for investigation by the General Security Service (Shin Bet). He has been  told by the investigators that there are people who might conspire against him, and that he should take care. This warning was repeated to him the day before the fire at his house. Z. tell us that this time, too, Ibrahim saw the perpetrators – two persons dressed in black with masks on their faces. He, together with his father and brother, tried to chase after them, but they fled to the west (the region of the illegal settlements of Kida, Adey-Ad, Esh Kodesh – among the most violent in the West Bank). According to Z.,  people in the village saw a military vehicle that put its lights on. To the villagers' questions, the soldiers answered that they had lost their way… Rumor has it that in the back seat of that vehicle, the criminals were hiding. When the fire engine and the ambulance, summoned from Burin, arrived, the fire had been extinguished almost entirely by the family and the villagers.

A short time afterward the army arrived in the village. The residents gathered  and tear gas and live bullets were fired against them. Two inhabitants were wounded and required medical assistance.

We drive to Ibrahim's house, which is adjacent to the burnt house of the Dawabshe family. In the yard of the house, as in a mourners' booth, men, family members and friends are seated. Ibrahim's father, an eloquent and impressive man, welcomes us. He takes us to his son's flat. which is situated on the second floor, above the house of the extended family. In the young couple's bedroom we encounter a shocking sight: the room and all its contents are entirely burnt . The walls are sooty. The windowpane is shattered: through it the Molotov cocktail was thrown.

The father leads us to the yard and points out the route  the arsonists took: they climbed on the olive tree in the yard, from there  climbed up to the unglazed window on the house's wall, from there  jumped to the roof, straight opposite the bedroom. The sight doesn't leave room for doubt: the people who set the fire knew the house and its surroundings well, they knew exactly where the couple's bedroom was located, and surely planned the stages of the approach to it very well.

The father stresses: "Even neighbors told me after the fire that although they know that Ibrahim and his wife live in the upper flat since their marriage, but did not have a clue where exactly their bedroom was located." The arsonists had accurate information. They planned to burn Ibrahim and his wife while they were sleeping.

Luckily for the couple they woke up on time and escaped the burning room by the door before the flames could reach it. They pounded forcefully on the iron gate opposite, which leads to the parents' house on the first floor. Precious time passed until the parents woke up on hearing the pounding and opened the gate, thus saving the couple. In the investigations by the police and the Shin Bet, which the father and the son underwent, again and again the following questions came up: "Perhaps you yourselves set the fire, in order to get money?" "Perhaps you have enemies in the village?"

When  father and  son mentioned the word "settlers" there was  a furious reaction from the investigators: "tell us what has happened but don't say 'settlers'". The investigators took pains "to justify" the event: "After all there are no inscriptions on the wall in Hebrew." In order to eliminate  suspicions against the settlers they said: "After all you were not burnt."

12:30 Tapuah intersection. Soldiers check cars arriving from Nablus. There is a long queue.

 

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