5 Palestinian children hurt as suspected extremists set fire to their home

SINJIL, Palestinian Territories (AFP) - Five Palestinian children suffered from smoke inhalation when suspected Jewish extremists set fire to their West Bank home on Thursday in an apparent revenge attack, the family said.

The attackers torched the front of the Dar Khalil family's home in Sinjil, a village northeast of Ramallah, and spray-painted the words "Regards from Eden, Revenge!" in Hebrew in blue on a wall outside the house.

"Eden" is an apparent reference to Eden Atias, a soldier who was killed on Wednesday by a 16-year-old Palestinian while sleeping on a bus in northern Israel. He was buried on Wednesday night.

The Dar Khalil family had no apparent connection to the Palestinian attacker.

"I woke up at 2am, and four or five people came out of a white car and started breaking windows, then poured gasoline, then threw fire into the house," mother-of-five Ruweida Dar Khalil told AFP.

"My kids were sleeping, I was scared to death, my kids almost died, I couldn't even touch the doorknob, it was so hot."

Ms Dar Khalil said the children, the eldest aged seven, returned home after being taken to hospital.

"I need protection," she said. "I'm scared to sleep inside my home."

An Israeli police spokesman said an investigation had been opened.

The attack is the latest "price tag" incident, a term used by Jewish extremists carried out in pursuit of their hardline agenda.

Such attacks initially targeted Palestinians in retaliation for state moves to dismantle unauthorised settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank.

But they later spread to include a broader range of targets in revenge for killed Israeli civilians and soldiers, with racist and xenophobic overtones.

Last month, Palestinian property in Burqa, a village just east of Ramallah, was vandalised with the name of a demolished outpost and a soldier killed by a Palestinian scrawled nearby.