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Palestinian woman dies from arson attack that killed husband, infant

Palestinian woman dies from arson attack that killed husband, infant
A Palestinian woman holds a poster of Riham Dawabsha during her funeral at Duma village near the West Bank city of Nablus on Sept. 7. (Alaa Badarneh / European Pressphoto Agency)

A Palestinian woman died Monday at an Israeli hospital of her injuries more than five weeks after an arson attack on her West Bank home that also killed her husband and infant son, Palestinian officials said.

Riham Dawabsha died at Tel Hashomer hospital shortly after midnight, Palestinian Authority Minister of Health Jawad Awwad said.

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Dawabsha was critically injured in a predawn arson attack on her home in the Palestinian village of Duma on July 31. Still-unidentified assailants torched the house as the family of four was sleeping, killing her son, 18-month-old Ali, and gravely burning the boy's parents and 4-year-old brother Ahmad.

All three surviving family members were taken to hospitals in Israel for treatment. The father, Saad Dawabsha, died of his injuries a week later. Israeli medical sources report that Ahmad's condition is improving but warn he faces a long period of recovery.

Riham Dawabsha, a high school teacher, arrived at Tel Hashomer hospital with 3rd-degree burns covering 90% of her body. Lung damage worsened her condition. She died on the eve of her 27th birthday.

Thousands of people, including her high school students and fellow teachers, attended her funeral in her home village. Youths clashed with Israeli forces stationed at the entrance to Duma. Soldiers fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets at the stone-throwing Palestinians, causing slight injuries to some protesters.

Palestinians called for a day of rage and protests on Friday at points of contact with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank over the attack on the Dawabsha family.

In a statement Monday, Israeli lawmaker Aida Tuma Sliman said her death "is heartbreaking" and called for thoughts for "little Ahmad, the sole survivor of an entire family burned by the flames of hatred and malice. More than a month has passed but the murderers still walk free and the terror and hate crimes against Palestinians continue as though nothing has changed."

The Palestinian Authority declared a three-day mourning period in the West Bank and said it held Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government responsible for the attack, echoing widespread suspicions that Israeli extremists carried out the attack.

Netanyahu's office later released a statement saying the Israeli leader "expresses his condolences to the Dawabsha family" and vowing that "security forces are doing their utmost to apprehend the assailants and bring them to justice."

In a statement, the Palestinian Authority said it would raise the attack in international forums, an apparent reference to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, "to bring justice [to the family] and punish the perpetrators for their hideous crime."

It also renewed its call on the United Nations Security Council to provide protection to the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation.

Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Monday issued a statement expressing concern over "the lack of progress in identifying and prosecuting the perpetrators of this outrage."

Special correspondents Abukhater reported from Ramallah and Sobelman from Jerusalem.

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