Jewish terrorist gets three life sentences for Duma attack

Arab MKs blast Jewish terrorist attacker of Duma at sentencing hearing: 'You burned a family'

Amiram Ben Uliel, the suspect in the Duma arson murder in July 2015 where three members of the Dawabshe family were killed, arrives to hear his verdict at the court on May 18, 2020 (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
Amiram Ben Uliel, the suspect in the Duma arson murder in July 2015 where three members of the Dawabshe family were killed, arrives to hear his verdict at the court on May 18, 2020
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
The Lod District Court on Monday sentenced Amiram Ben-Uliel to three life sentences based on his conviction in the terrorist arson murders of the Palestinian Dawabshe family.
The July 2015 attack killed 18-month-old Ali and his parents, Sa’ad and Riham, and destabilized Israeli-Arab relations throughout the region.
Immediately following the handing down of the sentencing, Ben-Uliel’s wife, Orion, and supporters rose to their feet and yelled at the judges, “You are the murderers!”
Seconds later, Dawabshe family members jumped to their feet and yelled at the Ben-Uliel supporters, “You are a family of murderers!”
Ben-Uliel was convicted by the court on May 18, dismissing an unusual, final attempt last week to overturn the verdict based on new evidence.
The defense has vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court, saying the district court wrongfully accepted some of Ben-Uliel’s confessions given after alleged torture by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
Ben-Uliel’s legal team, led by Asher Ohayon, had asked for leniency. But with a triple-murder conviction, the team was pessimistic going into Monday’s hearing.
In May, judges Ruth Lorch, Tsvi Dotan and Dvora Atar convicted Ben-Uliel of two separate counts of attempted murder and two other counts of arson. They acquitted him of membership in a terrorist group.
On Monday, he was given 20 additional years in prison for attempted murder.
The court ordered Ben-Uliel to pay NIS 258,000 for each of the three murdered Palestinians to the surviving Dawabshe family and an additional NIS 200,000 for harm to Ahmad Dawabshe, a surviving family member.
The court ordered compensation of NIS 20,000 to Mamoun Dawabshe, who was unharmed physically, but whose house was damaged in a separate arson attack.
Despite Ben-Uliel’s acquittal for membership in a terrorist group, the court said he had murdered the Palestinians for ideological reasons – something that could lead to a harsher sentence or to preventing lenient treatment at some later date.
The court said even though it had disqualified confessions Ben-Uliel gave when the Shin Bet used enhanced interrogation tactics on him, his confessions 36 hours later were given freely and compellingly.
Furthermore, the court said it was convinced by Ben-Uliel’s voluntary physical reconstruction of the crime at the scene of the murders.
In addition, the court cited Ben-Uliel’s refusal to testify in his own defense.
The court wrote: “The defendant described the scene of the crime in extreme detail in his confessions… which was later clarified to be meticulously accurate… the defendant carried out a reconstruction with great accuracy and which was close to identical to his confessions – something that rebuts the claims” that he was guessing or tipped off in the moment by the Shin Bet investigators.
In May, Ohayon responded to a question from The Jerusalem Post about the fact that the Supreme Court has been very accepting of enhanced interrogation confessions during the last three years, saying there was no parallel.
Ben-Uliel had been “tortured far worse than any Palestinian,” he said.
The Dawabshe family responded to the May decision, saying it was important for justice to be done so that “no one else’s lives will be ruined” and destroyed like the three murdered Dawabshes.
Supporters for Ben-Uliel yelled at the court in May: “How can you convict an innocent person?” They had to be silenced by security guards.
For months after the murder, the Shin Bet performed a massive manhunt and investigation, but it turned up empty-handed.
Former Shin Bet director Yoram Cohen had told the Post he fundamentally altered the entire approach toward Jewish terrorism against Palestinians, taking a much harder stance and investing far more resources.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon made frequent statements about the severity of the incident. They assured the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Egypt and countries worldwide of their commitment to bringing the perpetrators to justice.
When the Shin Bet finally apprehended Ben-Uliel, then 21 and the alleged murderer of the Dawabshes – as well as a minor who was accused of conspiring with him regarding the murders – the situation was viewed as so desperate that they used torture and enhanced interrogation to get the defendants to confess.
This ushered in a whole new side and saga to the case: Suddenly, enhanced interrogation, administrative detention and other extreme measures were being used not only against Palestinians, as they had been in the past, but also against Jews.
Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich and right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir have accused the Shin Bet and the prosecution of massive overreaction and injustice in the treatment of Ben-Uliel and the minor.
Joint List Party leader Ayman Odeh and other Arab activists have demanded that harsh justice be meted out to Ben-Uliel if Israel is to avoid accusations that it cracks down harder on Palestinian terrorism than on Jewish terrorism.
The convicted co-conspirator, whose name is under gag order since he was a minor at the time of the incident, is due to be sentenced on Wednesday.
Since he was not directly involved in the murder and was a minor, his maximum sentence could be five and a half years in prison, but it could also be as little as community service.