Israeli Minor Indicted in Palestinian Family Murder Gets Plea Deal

Court says the minor was involved in planning the crime, which he admits. He won't serve more than five years in prison

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FILE Photo: A picture of 18-month-old Palestinian baby Ali Dawabsheh who was killed after his family's house was set on fire in Duma village near the West Bank city of Nablus July 31, 2015.
FILE Photo: A picture of 18-month-old Palestinian baby Ali Dawabsheh who was killed after his family's house was set on fire in Duma village near the West Bank city of Nablus July 31, 2015.Credit: Reuters

The Central District Court in Lod asserted Sunday that an Israeli minor, who was charged in the case of the 2015 Dawabsheh family murder, was involved in planning the crime. This decision comes as part of a plea deal between the minor's lawyers and the State Prosecutor's Office.

18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh was burned alive in the fire alongside both his parents, S’aad and Reham, who died of their injuries soon afterward in the West Bank village of Duma.

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According to the plea deal, the minor confessed and will be convicted of conspiracy to commit arson of the family's home in a racially motivated crime, as well as involvement in other hate crimes. The prosecution agreed not to ask for a sentence of more than five and a half years in prison.

Because the defendant was a minor at the time of the crime his identity remains confidential.

The original indictment in the case did not charge the minor with the murders, but with conspiring to commit a crime alongside the main defendant Amiram Ben-Uliel. According to the indictment, the minor did not show up on the night he allegedly agreed to meet up with Ben-Uliel and commit the murders. However, Ben-Uliel's confessions, admitted as evidence, clearly mention the minor's name. Ben-Uliel's trial is still ongoing.

FILE Photo: Right-wing supporters of the defendants protest outside the Central District Court in Lod, 2018. Credit: Ilan Assayag

Besides his involvement in the Duma attack, the plea deal also includes hate crimes such as setting on fire a storeroom in the village of Aqraba near Nablus in the West Bank and vandalizing property with a racist motive, setting a taxi on fire and spray-painting graffiti in Kafr Yassif and slashing tires in the Beit Safafa neighborhood of Jerusalem. The sides did not reach an agreement regarding the minor's membership to a terror organization.

The plea deal was accepted, but since the defendant was a minor when the acts were committed, the decision whether to convict him and on what counts will be decided by the court only after probation service.

In June 2018, the Central District Court ruled that the minor’s confessions concerning the murder were inadmissible because they were made while being “tortured” by the Shin Bet security service, which used force to extract the confessions. Parts of the defendant’s confessions concerning other anti-Arab hate crimes other than the Duma case were ruled admissible.

The minor was released to house arrest in July 2018 after being held in jail for two years.

The youth’s lawyers from the Honenu Israeli nonprofit organization, which provides legal aid to Jewish terror suspects said this is a further example of the collapse of the theory constructed by the Shin Bet about what happened that night in Duma and who was behind it.

In response to the announcement of the plea bargain, the Shin Bet said: The confession of the defendant was given after he had argued throughout the entire process that he had nothing to do with the attack on Duma and that he had given a false confession only because of the conditions of his interrogation.”

“In the context of its plea for punishment, the state will request that the minor be punished in light of the harsh consequences of the conspiracy,” the Shin Bet added.

The maximum sentence for each count of arson is 15 years in prison.

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