Two Life Sentences for Bedouin Father Who Murdered His Two Daughters

Ali Amtirat from southern Israeli community of Al Fura'a claimed in court that the girls' Palestinian mother killed them using paid collaborators.

Ali Amtirat in Be'er Sheva District Court, December 15, 2015.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The Be’er Sheva District Court on Tuesday sentenced Ali Amtirat, the father from the Negev community of Al-Fura’a who was convicted this summer of the murder of his two daughters in 2013, to two life sentences plus 10 years in prison.

Prior to the start of Amtirat’s trial, when Israel Prison Service staff brought him into the courtroom, he shouted, “I’m an innocent man, but the state isn’t finding the truth. They don’t want the truth.” Afterwards, when he was removed from the courtroom and then brought back in, Amtirat claimed that it was the mother who murdered her daughters with the help of paid collaborators. He also claimed that since the moment the police found a way to solve the case, it has not allowed him to prove his innocence.

Amtirat was convicted in August of two counts of murder of his daughters, Ramais and Asinad Dandis, aged 2 and 4, respectively, the kidnapping two family members before the murder for the purpose of extortion, and conspiracy to commit a crime. After the murder Amtirat fled his home and only after about a month and a half was he arrested by police in a cave in the Dead Sea area.

In the wake of the case then-Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino decided to appoint an investigative committee headed by senior police officer Ephraim Bracha, which decided that the commander of the Arad police station, his deputy and the head of investigations at the station should be ousted.

The affair revealed deficiencies in the police’s treatment of the mother, Abir Dandis, who complained over six times at the Ma’aleh Adumim police station about her husband’s violence against her and her daughters, including a day before the murder. The police refused to handle her complaints, saying that she is not an Israeli citizen. This was despite the fact that the crimes of violence and the many threats by Amtirat against Dandis took place on Israeli territory.

“I saw the disdain in their eyes, everyone I spoke to paid no attention. They told me, ‘You’re a Palestinian, go to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, we have nothing to do as the police,” she said in an interview with Haaretz in 2013. Dandis is engaged in a lawsuit against the state as a result of the defective handling of her complaints, and is demanding at least 12 million shekels in compensation.

In their decision the judges criticized the police, and wrote that it seems that the complaint by the girls’ mother on the eve of the murder was received “offhandedly and with indifference.” They also referred to the mother’s status as a second wife in a polygamous relationship, maintaining that her weakened status exposed her and her children to abuse and violence.

In addition to the life sentences imposed on the father due to the murders, he was also sentenced to six years for kidnapping Abir’s brother, Mahdi Dandis, and another four years for kidnapping his nephew, Omar Amtirat. The court also ruled that the father must pay the mother the maximum compensation allowed by the law, 258,000 shekels for each murder, and another 20,000 shekels to Mahdi Dandis and Omar Amtirat. Ali will have to pay another 10,000 shekels to Walid Salab, a friend of Mahdi who was kidnapped together with Mahdi.

The court ruled that the prison sentences for kidnapping would not coincide with the life sentences but would constitute a cumulative punishment.