Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he had ordered a minister to file a complaint at The Hague, following an arson attack by Israeli settlers in the West Bank village of Duma on Friday which killed an 18-month-old baby and critically injured other family members.
The attack has been widely condemned as terrorism, including by Israel’s opposition leader Isaac Herzog. He called for similar responses to settler violence as Israel is currently deploying in order to prevent Islamist attacks. “Everything that is valid against Islamist terror is valid also here,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
The US state department also condemned the “vicious terrorist attack” and cautioned both sides to avoid an escalation of violence.
Protests followed the death of the child on Friday. According to Palestinian sources, 14-year-old Latih Khaldi was wounded during clashes and died in hospital.
Meanwhile, on Saturday nearly 2,000 Israelis gathered for a peaceful protest against hate crime. The rally was organised by the settlement watchdog group Peace Now, with smaller protests held throughout the country.
Settler violence in the occupied West Bank is escalating, according to the UN. In 2015, there have already been 120 attacks on Palestinian inhabitants.
“When the Israeli government encourages settlements everywhere, they’re also encouraging these thugs to carry out these attacks. This is a war crime and a tragedy for all of us,” said PA President Abbas.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the family of the 18-month-old arson victim in the hospital in Tel Aviv on Friday. Many Palestinian consider the visit a simple PR tactic. While condemning this incident as terrorism, Netanyahu has done little to prevent settler violence. During his previous premiership in the 1990s settlements have expanded at an increasing rate and continue to expand under his current leadership.
In January 2015, Palestine lodged an investigation at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, aimed at investigating (on both sides) possible war crimes during the attack on Gaza in 2014. A preliminary examination is currently ongoing.
Palestine acceded to the Court in 2014 among opposition from Israel, which is currently not a state party to the ICC.