Four years after three Palestinian Arabs were killed in a fire in the village of Duma in Samaria, a neighbor has gone on record denying that Jews were responsible for the deadly blaze.
One July 31st, 2015, a fire broke out in the home of the Dawabsheh family in the village of Duma in the middle of the night, killing 18-month old Ali, and leaving three other members of the family injured. Weeks later, both of the parents, Said Muhammaned Hassan Dawabsheh and Riham Hassand Dawabsheh, succumbed to their injuries.
Hebrew graffiti was found at the site, including the word “Revenge” in Hebrew, leading Israeli investigators to treat the arson as an act of Jewish terrorism.
Police claimed a group of Israeli youths hurled firebombs at the Dawabsheh home, sparking a fire which eventually consumed much of the house.
New testimony from a neighbor of the Dawabsheh’s, however, contradicts claims by Israeli police, suggesting that the fire was not set by Jewish arsonists.
The man, an Arab resident of Duma who lived next door to the Dawabsheh family, told a private investigator his recollection of the incident, saying it was “nonsense” that Jews were involved. He claimed that the fire was sparked in connection to a separate arson in Duma, by locals who were involved in an internal dispute with another resident of the village.
The neighbor claimed that after sparking a fire in another house in Duma, owned by their rival, the Arab arsonists believed the Dawabshehs had spotted them, and sought to kill them, to ensure there would be no witnesses.
Neighbor: “That’s nonsense, forget it.”
Private Investigator: “What do you mean nonsense? What happened there? It wasn’t the Jews that did it I think.”
Neighbor: “No not at all, there’s nothing. The first arson wasn’t for them. Not for them at all.”
Investigator: “What do you mean ‘not for them’?”
Neighbor: “They [the Arab arsonists] didn’t come for them to burn their house initially. There was another man who was working with Jews, who was a thief, and made all kinds of problems. Now he bought a house in Shechem [Nablus]. He had told people that he’s in Shechem, in some restaurant called such and such. So people knew his house [in Duma] was empty. So they went out to torch his house.”
A second house in Duma was targeted by arsonists during the same night the Dawabsheh home was hit, which the neighbor interviewed by the private investigator claims was the primary target of the Arab arsonists he blames for the fires.
Neighbor: “At the same time [as the first arson], they [the Dawabsheh family]…were going back to their home to go to sleep. They turned on the light. The people who were setting the fire thought that they [the Dawabsheh family] had seen them and knew they were the arsonists.”
“They thought that they saw and knew who had made the fire, so they burned” the Dawabsheh home, “so they wouldn’t reveal who burned the house. You get what I mean?”
The neighbor also claimed that Israeli investigators failed to take the testimonies of Duma residents.
A video recording of the interview with the Duma resident has been forwarded to the Honenu organization, which has assisted in the defense of the Israeli youths accused in the arson.
A string of subsequent fires in Duma, including some in homes owned by members of the Dawabsheh clan, have not been linked to Jews.