Relatives of Palestinian Victims of Deadly 2015 Arson Attack Sue Israel

Dawabsheh family suit says the state created the conditions for the attack by allowing Jewish extremists to commit hate crimes against Palestinians for years

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Ahmed Dawabsheh, the only survivor of an arson attack in Duma in the West Bank, at Sheba Medical Center in 2015.
Ahmed Dawabsheh, the only survivor of an arson attack in Duma in the West Bank, at Sheba Medical Center in 2015. Credit: Reuters
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Members of the Dawabsheh family sued the state for more than 10 million shekels ($2.78 million) Monday for the July 2015 arson attack on their home in which three people in including an 18-month-old boy were killed.

In the attack in the village of Duma by Jewish extremists, Ahmed Dawabsheh, now 6, was the only survivor. His 18-month-old brother Ali was burned to death, while his parents Sa’ad and Reham died from their injuries weeks later.

Amiram Ben-Uliel, a 21-year-old son of a rabbi, was charged with the crime in January 2016. Last month, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the Dawabshehs were not entitled to compensation and Ahmed was not entitled to be recognized as a victim of terrorism because he was not a citizen or resident of Israel.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Hassan Khatib through the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, argues that the state bears exclusive responsibility for the killings under domestic and international law due to criminal negligence – it created the conditions for the attack.

The suit cites the establishment of illegal settlements and outposts near  Duma, which the suit says became bases for gangs that carried out hate crimes against local Palestinians. As the suit says, these people themselves categorized their actions as “price tag” attacks anti-Arab attacks.

According to the suit, for years the state and military government in the West Bank did not take immediate action to remove these transgressors from these outposts, or from land they had illegally seized.

It says Jewish extremists preached violence and racism on social media, calling for the takeover of more and more Palestinian land, and the legal authorities did not react.

“It was clear to anybody with a mind that the tolerance shown toward the hilltop youth, the settlers in the outposts and these lawbreakers would quickly transform from property damage and nonfatal bodily harm to deadly harm to innocent Palestinians,” Khatib wrote. Hilltop youth refers to particularly radical young settlers.

According to the suit, compensation is warranted because the state and its leaders, including the army and other defense and security forces, operated in the area and failed to prevent the attack from happening even though “the writing was on the wall,” as Khatib put it. The state bears direct responsibility through commission and omission.

“Over years, the policy of leniency toward the illegal occupation of private and public land for the establishment of illegal outposts, the failure to immediately remove these outposts and to act against the theft of land turned the outposts into hothouses and hostels for these lawbreakers, including the hilltop youth,” the suit says.

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