"Price-Tag” Attacks: The High Cost Palestinian Children Face For Living Near Settlers
Ruweida Dar Khalil explains how four settlers kicked down the door and set their home on fire in a “price-tag” attack on Nov. 14, 2013.
Photo Credit: DCIP/Dylan Collins
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Editor’s note: This article is part one of a three-part series based on a DCI-Palestine report, which investigates the devastating effect on Palestinian children of growing up near Israeli settlements. Read Part 2 and Part 3. Read the DCI-Palestine report: Growing up between Israeli settlements and soldiers.
At 2 am on Nov. 14, 2013, Ruwaida Dar Khalil was warming a bottle for her baby son when she heard the screech of car tires outside her home in Sinjil in the occupied West Bank. She dismissed the noise as teenagers fooling around in their cars, and went back to feeding her son. The next thing she heard was the sound of her front door being kicked in.
Four adult male Israeli settlers were breaking into the tiny house that Ruwaida shares with her husband and five children. The men smashed windows with crowbars, before dousing the entrance in gasoline and setting it ablaze.
“[The fire] lit so quickly and spread fast,” Ruwaida told Defense for Children International Palestine.
Smoke began filling the kitchen and Ruwaida realized that she had to get her family out.
“I woke up my husband and kids … [my children] were so scared, terrified … they were crying,” she said.
With the only escape route ablaze, Ruwaida and her husband, Khaled, had no option but to hide on the roof until help arrived.
Khaled and Ruwaida had left the United States to return to the West Bank with high hopes of raising their children in their homeland. They never anticipated that their home would be the target of four settler attacks.
Sinjil, the village they now live in with their three daughters and two sons, sits northeast of Ramallah. It is surrounded on three sides by an Israeli military base and two settlements. Soldiers are a common sight in the neighborhood, and Ruwaida finds it hard to understand why they didn’t come to help her family on the night of the attack.
“That night, there were Israeli police officers on the corner… and soldiers usually come to our place every night,” she said. “But… nobody showed up. Nobody cared.”
“Why didn’t anybody come to protect innocent children in this house?”
By the time Palestinian firefighters arrived and put out the fire, the roof had partially collapsed. All five of the children were treated for excessive smoke inhalation following the fire.
The next day, Khaled found the words “Regards from Eden, Revenge!” scrawled in spray paint on an outside wall. The message referred to Eden Attias, an Israeli soldier who had been stabbed to death on a bus in northern Israel by a Palestinian teenager a day earlier. The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the arson may have been carried out to avenge his murder.
Acts of violence like the one carried out against the Dar Khalil family are known as “price tag” attacks – and they are on the rise. Between 2009 and 2011, “price tag” attacks increased 144 percent, according to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA).
“Price tag” attacks are carried out by fundamentalist Israeli settlers against Palestinians (and other populations or institutions they see as responsible) in retaliation for any action taken against the settlement enterprise in the West Bank. This can include actions initiated by the Israeli government and Israeli forces, for example demolition orders against unauthorized settlements. The Israeli government has condemned “price tag” attacks.
The Dar Khalil children continue to struggle with the after effects of the brutal attack.