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Palestinian family said to be victim of third arson attack in year

Mohammed Dawabsha, relative of family that lost three members in last year's infamous Douma attack, says a 'ball of fire' set light to his home
Member of the Palestinian security forces inspects damage to house in Douma on Wednesday (AFP)

A Palestinian family said their West Bank home was attacked by arsonists on Wednesday morning, in what would be the third attack on the same family.

The blaze took place in the small West Bank village of Douma, where an arson attack last July killed three members of the same family including 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha.

Israeli police, however, deny that Wednesday’s attack had “nationalist” motives, saying investigations are ongoing.

Mohammed Dawabsha, a relative of the family struck by the infamous arson attack, said on Wednesday that his home caught fire after a “ball of fire” burst in through a bedroom window.

“My wife woke me up when she noticed movement near the house, but when I looked around I didn’t see anything,” Dawabsha told London-based news site al-Araby al-Jadeed.

“Less than an hour later, when I was in the bedroom, the window smashed.

“Then a ball of fire exploded and set the room on fire, before spreading to other parts of the house.

“If not for God’s protection I would be a corpse, along with my family,” said Dawabsha, who lives with his wife and three children.

Photos and videos from the scene showed flames and smoke billowing from the windows of the property.

Ghassan Daghlas, head of the Palestinian Authority’s body overseeing Israeli settlements in the West Bank, blamed settlers for the blaze.

“The flammable materials took less than 30 seconds to set alight, indicating that settlers set fire to the house,” Daghlas said in a statement.

Israeli police, however, have denied that militant settlers were behind the attack.

“Following the fire at a house in Douma, no evidence has been found at the scene that it was a nationalist crime,” police spokesperson Luba Samri said.

“Police are investigating, and are considering [the incident] from all sides.”

Samri said police are looking into “long-standing disputes between Palestinian rivals” in the area.

'Israeli terrorism'

The Palestinian Fatah movement, which controls the West Bank, on Wednesday condemned what it called “organised Israeli terrorism”.

“The Israeli army gives cover and protection to extremist settlers,” media spokesperson Munir al-Jamaghoub added at a press conference on Wednesday.

In March this year, the house of Ibrahim Mohammed Dawabsha, the only living witness to last year’s deadly attack, was set alight.

Palestinian officials said attackers threw two Molotov cocktails at the house, which lies some 20 metres from the home that was hit in last year's attack.