An Israeli Jewish man charged with a fatal arson attack on a Palestinian Arab family’s home was found guilty Monday morning.
Twenty-five-year-old Amiram Ben-Uliel, a resident of a small town in the Shilo bloc of Samaria, was convicted on three counts of murder Monday by the Lod District Court, in connection with the 2015 Duma arson attack. Ben-Uliel was also found guilty on two counts of attempted murder and one count of conspiracy to commit a hate crime. The court found Ben-Uliel innocent, however, of the charge of membership in a terrorist organization.
Protesters demonstrated outside of the court against the verdict, accusing investigators of forcing Ben-Uliel of confessing to the arson.
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.
Ben-Uliel was indicted on three counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization in January 2016. A 17-year-old Samaria resident – whose name has not been cleared for publication - was indicted on charges of aiding and abetting in the three murders.
In the indictment, prosecutors claimed Ben-Uliel and the teenage suspect had planned the attack on the two Duma homes as a revenge attack following the murder of Malachi Rosenfeld, who was shot and killed by a Hamas terrorist cell in an attack on the Alon Road south of Duma, just a month before the Duma arson.
The 17-year-old suspect later signed a plea bargain deal with prosecutors, admitting that he had conspired with Ben-Uliel during the planning of the arson attack, and three counts of vandalism.
The plea bargain deal sparked controversy, however, with critics noting that the teen’s confession had been extracted under extreme duress, and in some cases, torture.
In June 2018, the Lod District Court dismissed some – but not all - of the confessions obtained by prosecutors from Ben-Uliel and the minor, accepting claims they had been extracted using illegal “enhanced interrogation techniques” against the suspects.