Five Palestinian children suffered from smoke inhalation when suspected Jewish extremists set fire to their West Bank home on Thursday in an apparent revenge attack, the family said.
The attackers torched the front of the Dar Khalil home in Sinjil, a village northeast of Ramallah, and spray-painted the words “Regards from Eden, Revenge!” in Hebrew in blue on a wall outside the house.
“Eden” is an apparent reference to Eden Atias, a soldier who was killed on Wednesday by a 16-year-old Palestinian while sleeping on a bus in northern Israel. He was buried on Wednesday night.
The Dar Khalil family had no apparent connection to the Palestinian attacker.
“I woke up at 2:00 am (0000 GMT), and four or five people came out of a white car and started breaking windows, then poured gasoline, then threw fire into the house,” mother-of-five Ruweida Dar Khalil told AFP.
“My kids were sleeping. I was scared to death. My kids almost died. I couldn’t even touch the doorknob it was so hot.”
Dar Khalil said the children, the eldest aged seven, were returned home after being taken to hospital.
“I need protection,” she said. “I’m scared to sleep inside my home.”
An Israeli police spokesman said an investigation had been opened.
Later on Thursday, racist slogans including “death to Arabs” were discovered spray-painted on a fence in Nazareth Ilit, the northern Israeli city where Atias grew up and was buried.
And in Jerusalem, dozens of Jews were holding a demonstration against the killing, calling for “death to the terrorists” and “death to Arabs,” an AFP correspondent said.
The attack is the latest “price tag” incident, a term used by Jewish extremists carried out in pursuit of their hardline agenda.
Such attacks initially targeted Palestinians in retaliation for state moves to dismantle unauthorised settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank.
But they later spread to include a broader range of targets in revenge for killed Israeli civilians and soldiers, with racist and xenophobic overtones.
Last month, Palestinian property in Burqa, a village just east of Ramallah, was vandalised with the name of a demolished outpost and a soldier killed by a Palestinian scrawled nearby.
Atias’s killing was the latest incident in a recent uptick in Israeli-Palestinian violence.
On Thursday, Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency released details on its investigation into the killing of retired army colonel Sraya Ofer at his isolated Jordan Valley home in October.
According to Shin Bet, Palestinian suspects named as Odeh Farid Harub, 18, and Bashir Ahmed Harub, 21, from the village of Deir Samit west of southern West Bank city Hebron, had decided to murder Ofer. It ruled out the possibility that Ofer was killed during a botched robbery.
The Shin Bet said the two had originally planned to rob him, but two weeks ahead of the incident reached his home to collect information and realised he was an officer who most likely would have a gun in his possession.
The suspects then “decided to commit a murder as a gift to the Palestinian people and Hamas prisoners ahead of Eid al-Adha,” an upcoming Muslim holiday, the statement read, quoting the detained suspects.