Court upholds Duma arson conviction

Judges reject appeal by Amiram Ben Uliel, who was found guilty of deadly 2015 arson attack on Arab home.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Amiram Ben Uliel
Amiram Ben Uliel

An Israeli court upheld the conviction of the key suspect in a deadly 2015 arson attack on an Arab family in Samaria, rejecting an appeal of the conviction.

The Central District Court in Lod ruled Monday against an appeal filed by attorneys representing 25-year-old Amiram Ben-Uliel, a resident of a small town in the Shilo bloc of Samaria who was found guilty by the Lod District Court this May on three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder in connection with an arson which destroyed a Palestinian Arab family’s home in 2015.

Ben-Uliel’s attorneys, Yitzhak Bam and Asher Ohayon filed the appeal following new testimony by Ahmed Dawabshe, the child who survived the fire in July 2015, which, according to Ben-Uliel’s defense team, disproves the prosecution’s narrative.

Ahmed Dawabshe, then four at the time of the incident, has claimed that he remembers the fire and details from the night in question.

In interviews with Arab media outlets, Ahmed has claimed that a number of arsonists were involved in the fires sparked on the night of July 31st, 2015 – a claim which would contradict the prosecution’s narrative.

Ahmed also claimed that the arsonists broke into his family’s home and fought with the family.

Investigators, by comparison, claimed that only one person sparked the fires in Duma on the night of the 31st, and that the arsonist never set foot in the Dawabshe home.

In their ruling Monday, however, the judges rejected the defense team’s argument that Ahmed Dawabshe’s testimony was grounds for overturning the conviction, saying the child’s testimony was not sufficiently reliable to acquit Ben-Uliel.

Three members of the Dawabshe family were killed when their home in the village of Duma went up in flames on the night of July 31st.

Ali Said Muhammed Dawabshe, 1, his mother 26-year-old Riham Dawabshe, and father, 32-year-old Said Muhammed Hassan Dawabshe, were killed in the arson, while the family’s other son, Ahmed, survived. Ahmed suffered serious burns over much of his body.

During the investigation of the fire which destroyed the Dawabshe home, evidence was found that Molotov cocktails thrown into a bedroom had ignited the blaze. In addition, Hebrew graffiti, including the word “Revenge!” were found outside of the Dawabshe house, leading to suspicions the fire had been an arson attack by a group of Israeli Jewish youths.

A second house in Duma was also firebombed that night. The house was empty, however, and no injuries were reported in the second blaze.