SINJIL, West Bank (Reuters) - Israeli settlers set fire to a Palestinian house on Thursday, leaving behind a message saying they were avenging the death of an Israeli soldier killed by a Palestinian the previous day, residents said.
Several Palestinian children were treated for smoke inhalation and the house in the village of Sinjil in the occupied West Bank, was extensively damaged.
“Regards to Eden, Revenge!” the attackers spray-painted on an outside wall of the home, a reference to Eden Attias, an Israeli soldier who was stabbed to death on a bus by a 16-year-old Palestinian in the Israeli city of Afula on Wednesday.
The incidents add to simmering violence that has dogged U.S.-sponsored peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians that resumed in July. Fourteen Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed since the negotiations began.
Residents of the home that came under attack said four or five settlers struck at night, breaking windows and pouring petrol on the patio.
“Suddenly there was fire everywhere, spilling into the kitchen,” Ruwaida Dar Khalil, the mother of the household told Reuters. “We were terrified. We took our young children to hospital after they breathed in the smoke. Thank God they are all right.”
An Israeli police spokesman said it was investigating the attack and had identified a number of suspects.
In July, the Israeli Defence Ministry announced a crackdown on settler vandals, saying they were tantamount to terrorists and their attacks could fan sectarian violence.
Israel cites Biblical and historical claims to the West Bank, but the United Nations considers its settlements there illegal and most world powers say they are an obstacle to peace.
The mainstream settler leadership disavows the vandals in their midst but Palestinians say the attacks have been on the rise this year.
Reporting By Mohammed Torokman and Noah Browning; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Susan Fenton