An Israeli court on Tuesday threw out a confession given by a teenage settler – who cannot be named for legal reasons – in which he admitted his participation in an arson attack on a Palestinian home that killed three people.
The court ruled that the confession had been obtained under duress and was inadmissible in court, but that the confession given by primary suspect Amiram Ben-Uliel was valid. Ben-Uliel admitted firebombing the house and his involvement in six other racially motivated attacks targeting Palestinian villages after the “necessary investigations” conducted by Shin Bet police.
The unnamed minor had also been accused of taking part in the attack on the Dawabsheh family home on 31 July 2015 in the West Bank village of Duma, which killed toddler Ali Saad Dawabsheh and parents Riham and Saad Dawabsheh.
Omar Khamaisi, a lawyer for the family, told MEMO that despite the confession being overruled, the prosecution still had sufficient evidence of the minor’s involvement.
“The minor was not accused of murder, but prior planning and plotting. His confessions and statement [referring] to “Tag Mehir” or “Paying the price” and the activities of revenge, of burning and sabotaging Palestinian properties were taken and accepted.”
Khamaisi also said that the family would take the case further if a verdict of murder was not handed down to the guilty parties:
“The Dawabsheh case joins other cases and [queries] that the Palestinian Authority is trying to [take to] the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the ICC prosecutor.”
The Dawabsheh family has experienced ongoing harassment as the case is heard in court, with another family home in Duma firebombed by settlers last month, causing severe damage.
Earlier this week, as the family’s uncle and grandfather Nasr and Hussein Dawabsheh walked out of the courtroom accompanied by MKs Ahmad Tibi and Ayman Odeh, right wingers taunted the family chanting: “Where is Ali? Ali’s dead” and “Ali’s on the grill”.
Israel has also refused to pay compensation to the family and five year-old Ahmad, the only surviving member of the attack, who sustained severe burns in the fire. Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said last year that the Palestinian child did not qualify as a “terror victim” and does not hold Israeli citizenship and therefore is not entitled to compensation.
The UN has previously expressed concern at the slow progression of the case, with Special Envoy to the Middle East Nikolay Mladenov calling on Israeli authorities “to move swiftly in bringing the perpetrators of this terrible crime to justice”.