Family of Duma Arson Attack Victims to Testify Ahead of Murderer Sentencing

Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf
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10-year-old Ahmed Dawabsheh shows a family photo partially burnt down at the house in Nablus, West Bank on June 13, 2020.
10-year-old Ahmed Dawabsheh shows a partially burnt family photo his house in Nablus, West Bank on June 13, 2020.Credit: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency via AFP
Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf

Ahmed Dawabsheh, whose parents and baby brother were murdered in the 2015 arson attack on their home in the West Bank village of Duma, has been summoned to testify in court on Monday, the family’s lawyer said, but decided against showing up in court.

Dawabsheh’s grandfather, Hussein and an uncle named Nasr have also been summoned to testify and did show up to the Monday hearing.

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Convicted Israeli murderer Amiram Ben-Uliel was due to be sentenced for killing the Palestinian boy’s parents and baby brother in the fire set off by a Molotov cocktail hurled into the house before dawn.

The State Prosecutor’s office would not comment.

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

Ben-Uliel had originally been schedued for sentencing on Sunday.

Lod District Court found Ben-Uliel guilty on three charges of murder in May for killing Sa'ad and Riham Dawabsheh and their son Ali. Prosecutors asked that Ben-Uliel be sentenced to three life sentences plus 40 years in prison for other crimes. The last session of the trial took place last month and dealt with arguments ahead of sentencing.

However, a few days ago the police informed the lawyer representing the Dawabshehs, Omar Hamaisi, that the session was postponed and that testimonies would be heard on Monday for the proof phase of the trial, a phase that had already ended last year.

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

“I was surprised, telling them that these people were not listed in this case,” Hamaisi said. “The only witness was Hussein (Riham’s father), who identified the bodies. Beyond that, he saw nothing.”

He added that 10-year-old Ahmed had been called to testify in the judge’s chambers, not in front of lawyers for the other side. He will be accompanied by a translator and another person of his choosing, other than his grandfather. “It’s a strange procedure” says Hamaisi. “It means that they want to question the child. He was five at the time of the incident, I don’t know what the court expects of him under these circumstances.”

Ahmed Dawabsheh had been expected to speaking during a hearing for sentencing. But according to his lawyer, the boy was worried, since this issue evokes horrible memories, and he did not show up in court.

“The welfare of the child is the foremost consideration, so we dispensed with his testimony at that stage, and he did not relate what his life is like,” says Hamaisi. “We’re surprised that the court is now summoning him to testify, even though he’s not part of this case.”

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