Five Minors From ‘Wedding of Hate’ to Be Tried, Court Rules

A lower court’s ruling of procedural faults is overturned in the case of Israelis suspected of inciting to violence by celebrating a fatal attack on a Palestinian family

Screenshot from video of wedding in 2015 in which radical settlers appeared to celebrate a fatal firebombing in the Palestinian village of Duma.

The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday granted the state prosecution’s appeal and is allowing an indictment of five minors who took part in the so-called wedding of hate in 2015 in which radical settlers appeared to celebrate a fatal firebombing in the Palestinian village of Duma.

During the wedding, a photo of 1-year-old Ali Dawabsheh, who died in the July 2015 firebombing, was waved and stabbed. The indictments were sought after Channel 10 News showed footage from the wedding.

The video shows traditional Jewish dancing, but some guests are masked or brandishing guns or knives.

Later that summer, both of Ali’s parents also died from the burns they suffered in the attack.

Overall, 13 people from the wedding were charged, including the groom and the five minors.

Tuesday’s “ruling has set a new standard for the meaning of written approval, emptying the law of content,” said Moshe Polsky, one of the lawyers for the accused. His colleague Adi Keidar added: “The District Court decision is unfortunate; on the other hand, we’re pleased that the facts in the case will be clarified publicly in court.”

The five defendants, whose names are under a gag order because they were minors in 2015, are accused of incitement to violence or terror; one is also accused of deliberately damaging property.

The indictment had originally been thrown out due to defects in the submission process, including the need for the attorney general to sign off  only after the indictment was filed, not before.

On Tuesday, the judges wrote that though the decision by the lower court was mistaken, they agreed that the proper written consent was required.

But they said that there was room to grant an indictment even if there was a defect in the filing process, and that the lower court should have bridged  this shortcoming.

The indictments were filed in October 2016. During a discussion at the lower court, the defendant’s attorneys from the group Honenu claimed that the attorney general had not given written consent as required for filing an indictment for crimes related to freedom of expression. Honenu provides legal aid to Jews accused of violent attacks against Palestinians.

Later, the attorney general’s declaration that he had given his approval was presented. The approval came in an email written by an assistant saying that the attorney general had approved the filing of an indictment.

The lower court ruled that the requirements for written approval — that a document be signed and not just email correspondence — were not met in this case.

“The requirement is substantial and not only technical due to the centrality of ‘freedom of expression,’” the lower court ruled, accepting the argument that the indictments should be thrown out due to this defect.