- Published on Sunday, 19 August 2012 16:22
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a message to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday, vowing to bring the perpetrators of the "very serious" firebomb attack on a Palestinian taxi on Thursday to justice.
The attack, south of Bethlehem near the Palestinian village of Nahallin and the Israeli settlement of Bay Ayin, left six Palestinians with burn wounds. Four were members of the same family, including two young children both aged under five.
The Molotov cocktail is believed to have been thrown by an Israeli settler. The victims were evacuated to Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Karem shortly after the incident.
The Israeli Vice Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister, Moshe Ya'alon, called the incident a "terrorist attack". He said of both the attack and the lynching of four young Palestinians in Jerusalem, "The hate crimes committed over the weekend against Arabs... are intolerable, outrageous and must be firmly dealt with," Haaretz newspaper reported.
sraeli Police Inspector General Yochanan Danino said that he "won't allow extremist criminals to disrupt and inflame daily life across Israel, in particular in areas that are especially sensitive."
However, Abbas, speaking to a radio station in Ramallah on Friday, said that the IDF could prevent such "barbaric and despicable" attacks if they wanted to.
He said, "These attacks are taking place under the eye of the Israeli army, which is not doing anything to stop them. This proves that the racist policy continues to plague the mentality of the army and the settlers."
Israeli website Ynet News spoke to some of the victims in hospital where they were recovering from their burn wounds. The website reported on Saturday that the two young children injured in the attack are recovering well. However, their father Ayman is still in a coma in a serious condition.
Their mother, Jamila Riada, aged 30, was injured on both her face and hands, and spoke of the trauma of the attack. "Once I am discharged [from hospital] I have no intention of driving on the same road or any other road where racist religious people may be," she told Ynet, "I don't think we can resume our daily routine after this."
"We will never be able to forget this horrible event," said Hassan Rian, aged 27, "These criminals ruined our lives. Just as the Israeli government defends them, we want to be defended too, especially seeing as we live near settlers who want to hurt us."
The US State Department also condemned the attack in the "strongest possible terms". In a statement, the Department said, "We extend our deepest sympathies to the victims, among them children, and we hope for their speedy recovery.
"We note that the Government of Israel has also condemned this heinous attack and pledged to bring the perpetrators to justice. We look to Israeli law enforcement officials to do so expeditiously. We urge all parties to avoid any actions that could lead to an escalation of violence."