Amiram Ben-Oliel, charged with racially-motivated murder for the arson attack on the Dawabsha family home in Duma.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Lawyers for alleged Duma murderer Amiram Ben-Uliel said his confession was obtained by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) using “barbaric torture.”
At a press conference in Tel Aviv on Thursday, attorneys Yoram Sheftel and Itamar Ben-Gvir said “there was not a speck of evidence” to prove Ben-Uliel’s guilt assuming the court throws out what they called a wrongly obtained confession.
The press conference was called one day after a closed-door court session in which Ben-Uliel was arraigned.
Ben-Uliel was indicted on January 3 for murder as the central figure allegedly behind the Duma terrorist attack, along with a minor whose name remains under gag order. Ben-Uliel is accused of perpetrating the arson attack in July on the Dawabsha family home in the village of Duma near Nablus, which killed Sa’ad and Riham, and their 18-month-old son Ali.
His indictment ended a four-month long investigation, which brought criticism from the Palestinians for delay in cracking the case and criticism from the settler community for alleged torture used to interrogate the defendants.
Sheftel said all of the evidence against Ben-Uliel was obtained through a “torture bed and a torture chair, which originated during the period of the Inquisition.”
Homing in on the Shin Bet’s special unit for handling Jewish terrorism, he argued “they do not add anything to the state’s security, it is a factory for torturing Jews.”
Ben-Gvir lashed out, contending that the Shin Bet was hiding evidence since “all of the interrogations were filmed... all of the torture was filmed, but we have found that we have only received some of the interrogation records.”
On Thursday, the Justice Ministry refused to respond and the Shin Bet had not responded until press time.
However, when similar allegations were raised in January, the Shin Bet and the state hit back hard, saying their interrogations at all times followed legal standards.
Former attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein also had approved enhanced interrogation techniques at a certain point with Ben-Uliel and some other related defendants.
There is a constant debate between human rights groups and the state about where to draw the line for “moderate physical pressure,” which is essentially permitted by the High Court of Justice retroactively in “ticking bomb” scenarios.
The Shin Bet has also accused Ben-Uliel and others of trying to overthrow the state.
Specifically, regarding video footage of interrogations, the Ciechanover Commission, which submitted a report in September, recommended that all Shin Bet interrogations be filmed and a Justice Ministry representative can observe them in real-time, but that no video record be kept of the interrogations.
This format was adopted with the commission calling it a compromise between transparency and avoiding the possibility that the Shin Bet’s tactics and agents could be accidentally revealed to terrorists.
The lawyers expressed hope that what they called the heavy political pressure from the public, the Shin Bet and the Justice Ministry would not cause the court to ignore that the prosecution’s evidence is tainted.
Virtually all of the Knesset eventually turned on Ben-Uliel and those associated with him after a video of a racist-violent right-wing wedding ceremony was publicly distributed.
The indictment alleged Ben-Uliel and the minor’s conduct as follows: On July 30, Ben-Uliel left his house wearing heavy clothing and with the backpack to meet with the minor at the Yishuv Hada’at outpost, near Shiloh.
When the minor inexplicably did not show and after Ben-Uliel had waited for a while, he decided to perpetrate the attack on his own.
Ben-Uliel reached Duma and then tied part of a shirt around his face to function as a mask obscuring his identity and donned the gloves.
He specifically checked for a house that showed signs of people being present to ensure he would be able to kill people inside a house as opposed to merely burning an abandoned house.
Despite his efforts, the first house he attacked was empty at the time.
Next, he moved on to the house of Sa’ad, Riham and Ali Dawabsha, but at first failed to open two different windows to attack the house with his second Molotov cocktail.
Eventually, he succeeded in finding a third window leading to the bedroom where the Dawabshas were sleeping and threw the Molotov cocktail inside there, after which it engulfed all four walls of the house in flames, eventually killing three of the four family members.