(JTA) — The State Department harshly condemned the deadly arson at a Palestinian village but stopped short of attributing it to Jewish extremists.
The condemnation issued Friday was over an arson committed a day earlier at two Palestinian homes in the West Bank near Nablus. An 18-month-old baby perished in the fire, which injured several of his relatives.
The European Union blamed violent Jewish settlers for the crime; the perpetrators left Hebrew-language graffiti about revenge. These and other clues made Israeli police suspect the attack in Duma was a hate crime carried out by Israelis.
The State Department said the United States “condemns in the strongest possible terms last night’s vicious terrorist attack in the Palestinian village” and conveyed “profound condolences” to the family.
“We welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu’s order to Israel’s security forces to use all means at their disposal to apprehend the murderers for what he called an act of terrorism and bring them to justice,” the department’s statement also read. “We urge all sides to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this tragic incident.”
In a separate bulletin, the State Department warned U.S. citizens that it “expects demonstrations in Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank due to the recent attack at the Jerusalem Pride Parade and the attack in Duma.”
Six people were injured at the parade where a haredi Orthodox extremist allegedly stabbed participants indiscriminately before being wrestled to the ground. The same man had been only recently released from jail for committing a similar attack at the 2005 Jerusalem Pride Parade.