Israeli Convicted of Murdering Three Members of Palestinian Family in 2015 Arson

Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf
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Aviram Ben-Uliel in court on May 18, 2020.
Aviram Ben-Uliel in court on May 18, 2020.Credit: Avshalom Sassoni
Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf

An Israeli was convicted of murder on Monday in the 2015 firebombing murder of three members of a Palestinian family, including an infant.

Amiram Ben-Uliel was convicted of three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder in the 2015 killing of the Dawabsheh family in their home in the West Bank town of Duma, south of Nablus. The Lod District Court acquitted him of being a member of a terror organization.

The Dawabsheh familyCredit:

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Masked assailants broke the family's window at 4 A.M. and threw a Molotov cocktail inside, killing Sa’ad and Reham Dawabsheh and their son Ali, who was 18 months old.  Ali's brother, Ahmed, who was four years old at the time, sustained severe injuries, but survived the attack. 

Hussein Dawabsheh, Reham’s father, responded to the verdict, saying that he “feels that the trial was for others, not for me. It won’t bring back my daughter; her husband and my grandson won’t return, but I don’t want another child to be in Ahmed’s place. We experienced a great trauma, and I won't forget it in 100 years. I don’t want this to happen to another family.”

The Shin Bet security service called the court's decision "an important milestone in the battle against Jewish terror" in a statement. Ben-Uliel's crimes, it said, are a "severe crossing of a red line." 

The panel of three judges wrote that direct observation of Ben-Uliel showed he was not member "of a group at a high risk of giving a false confession." Furthermore, they wrote, his confession was backed up by detailed evidence, his ability to recreate the crime, and his knowledge of details that were still unknown by investigators at the time. In their ruling, the judges wrote that it was impossible to know, based on the evidence they saw, whether there was another perpetrator in the crime. "The possibility that the accused is concealing another person who was with him is not unfounded."

They also explained that he was acquitted of belonging to a terror organization, because although the attack was an act of terror, there was not enough evidence to prove any links to organizations. The judges wrote that they could not rule out that the attack was motivated by a desire for revenge or racism without Ben-Uliel actually being a member of an organized group.

Inside the Dawabsheh family home after the deadly firebombing, 2015.Credit: Moti Milrod

Ben-Uliel confessed to the crime three times. Two of Ben-Uliel's confessions were ruled inadmissible, the first because it was extracted by physical force and the second because it had been given soon after physical force was used. A third confession was eventually accepted.

According to the indictment against him, Ben-Uliel's motive was "revenge" for the murder of Malachi Rosenfeld by a Palestinianin a drive-by shooting near the town of Duma, where the Dawabsheh family lived, a month earlier.

Last year a court struck a plea bargain with a minor charged with involvement in planning the crime. He was later convicted of being a member of a terror organization.

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