High Court grants state more time to solve Duma terrorist attack

Justice defers to state’s judgment that arrests will soon lead to indictments.

December 16, 2015 00:57
2 minute read.
Palestinian children play in the yard of the Dawabsha family home in Duma in December, 2015

Palestinian children play in the yard of the Dawabsha family home in Duma in December, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The High Court of Justice on Tuesday gave the state more time to probe the Duma terrorist attack, rejecting a petition by MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) against Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, demanding they immediately take “legal steps against the Dawabsha family’s murderers.”

Last week, the state-attorney revealed to the three justice High Court panel of President Miriam Naor, Yoram Danziger and Anat Baron that it was not ready to bring the recently arrested Duma terrorist attack suspects to trial, and asked for more time to continue the investigation.

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The state’s response heavily suggested that it was confident that arresting the suspects was a breakthrough of sorts and showed commitment to solve the crime, but also that filing indictments was still in doubt and not on the horizon in the near future.

Three members of the Dawabsha family died in a July 31 arson attack on their home in Duma, a small community near Nablus in Samaria.

Frej argued that Ya’alon and Weinstein were not taking “the necessary legal steps against the murderers of the Dawabsha family, in order not to expose intelligence sources.”

He called the absence of prosecutions of the murderers “illegal, unreasonable, extremely disproportionate, and severely discriminative,” since “the identities of the killers are known to the authorities.”

On Monday, Deputy Attorney- General Raz Nizri confirmed to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee media reports of extreme and controversial tactics against the suspects, whose identities are still under gag order, to try to gather sufficient evidence for indictments.

At the same time, Nizri rejected accusations that the tactics were illegal and said they were authorized under the law in extreme circumstances and had been approved by Weinstein.

In the past ideological activists have held out from cooperating with authorities sometimes for long periods of time.

Baron, in one of her first major opinions where she wrote on behalf of a High Court panel, deferred to the state’s judgment that its recent arrests would or could lead in the course of its investigation to indictments, even if it had not yet arrived at that point.

Frej had noted in the petition that on September 9, five weeks after the murder, the defense minister announced that “the security systems know who is responsible for the terrorist attack in which the Dawabsha family house in Duma was set on fire, but are reluctant to put them on trial in order not to expose intelligence sources.”

Since then, the arrests were made and announced, and for a few days, it seemed that the mystery of the attack might have been solved.

Baron wrote that the arrests in and of themselves undermined Frej’s argument that the state was doing nothing.

However, following an explosion of headlines about the arrests, the issue has fallen silent with no clear hint until Tuesday as to whether the trail for solving the crime had gone cold.

Several parties have also slammed the state for the prolonged administrative detention of three other activists dating back to August.

But the government, with support from Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi), has rebuffed the criticism.

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