Moshe Yaalon to testify in ‘Hate Wedding’ Affair

Defendants stabbed, burned, tore pictures of Duma victims at a wedding in 2015

Video of far-rightists stabbing photos of dead Palestinian baby‏ (photo credit: CHANNEL 10)
Video of far-rightists stabbing photos of dead Palestinian baby‏
(photo credit: CHANNEL 10)
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon testified on Wednesday afternoon in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court trial of the “Hate Wedding” affair.
In October 2016, 13 defendants, including five minors ages 14-17, were indicted on charges of incitement to violence and terrorism for participating in a wedding celebration on December 7, 2015, in which revelers were caught on video dancing with guns and attacking pictures of the three Palestinian victims of the infamous July 2015 Duma arson terrorist attack.
The indictments, in what became known as the “Hate Wedding” affair, were filed after approval by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, and included the groom, Yakir Eshbal, from Yad Binyamin.
The minute-long footage of the wedding, broadcast by Channel 10 in 2015, horrified the public and Israeli politicians across the spectrum. It showed young men wearing white skullcaps and shirts, dancing while holding knives and guns and carrying out violent displays.
Ya’alon was questioned by the defense about how and why he released the video of the wedding to the media.
They tried to portray his actions in releasing the video as legally problematic or as showing he was using it for political purposes and that he did not view the wedding as a criminal issue.
Rather, the defense presented Ya’alon as wanting to use the video to convince Yesha leaders and others criticizing the state crackdown on suspects in the Duma arson that the threat level from extremist Jews was real.
However, such a public relations exercise would not make the wedding criminal.
In contrast, The Jerusalem Post has learned that the prosecution’s view would be that Ya’alon’s testimony was entirely irrelevant and itself a public relations display.
In their view, the video of the wedding speaks for itself, showing an unprecedented level of incitement that has never occurred at any other wedding.
The prosecution would argue that the combination of actual weapons being used against pictures of Palestinian terrorist victims was unique and sets the case apart from many other Jewish or Arab weddings that might have had more limited aspects of incitement, but did not lead to indictments.
Having concluded its presentation more than a year ago, the prosecution hopes that the defense will soon conclude its case; that the prosecution’s closing arguments can be completed within a couple of months; and that there will be a verdict by the end of 2021 or start of 2022.
In November 2018, Judge Eitan Cohen ruled in favor of the defense in forcing the prosecution to provide 17 case files to the defendants in which the state did not press charges against Arabs for actions that the defendants say were identical to their actions.
Cohen hinted that if there was a tougher line taken against Jews, it could be grounds for dismissing the charges, even if the defendants were guilty.
On the flip side, Cohen ruled in favor of the prosecution on a separate issue.
While the defense found that the prosecution has lost one of the originals of the videos of the incident, the prosecution got the court to move past this.
It has said that it still retains many original videos and that it has a full copy with chain of custody proven regarding the one missing original.
A NUMBER of politicians from across the political spectrum criticized the video in 2015, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said: “Israel is a land of the rule of law. We will not tolerate a situation where a particular group refuses to accept the laws of the state and carries out acts of murder.”
However, after all of the condemnation, a criminal indictment for incitement was never a foregone conclusion.
In fact, Honenu, which defends right-wing activists in court, issued a statement in 2016 condemning the indictment as showing a double standard against right-wing Jews as opposed to Israeli-Arabs.
The statement said that Israeli-Arabs frequently fire into the air and display guns at weddings and other communal gatherings, and frequently engage in incitement without consequence.
Asked in 2016 how it compared Israeli-Arabs shooting into the air with no specific anti-Jewish message to the actions of the defendants, Honenu did not address the issue.
Jerusalem District Attorney Yifat Pinhasi, who filed the case along with prosecutor Erez Pedan, released an unusual public statement in 2016 regarding the indictment, stating that the event “was a grave incident of incitement to violence and terrorism.” She said that “the actions absolutely crossed the line from being legitimate free expression into the area of criminal incitement offenses.”
Pressed on how the defendants’ actions, however condemned, could constitute incitement when they occurred at a private event, a Justice Ministry spokeswoman responded in 2016 that the approximately 500 attendees removed the event from being considered private since the incitement impacted a large number of viewers.
The indictment said that Eshbal, the groom, was in control of the incitement that occurred in the presence of a huge audience of around 500 attendees.
A STATEMENT by the Justice Ministry in 2016 noted that shortly before the wedding, investigators had arrested several suspects in the 2015 Duma terrorist attack, possibly making the anti-Dawabshe display a partial response to the arrests.
The indictment continued that shortly before the wedding, some of the defendants printed out pictures of Saad, Riham and Ali Dawabshe along with the message: “revenge.”
Pictures were attached to cartons and boards so they could be waved as banners at the wedding.
During the wedding, defendant and wedding singer Sinai Tor of Ramat Hasharon sang the song Let Us Rebuild the Temple, but added the words “that the Mosque should burn – should burn” as well as “that the Mosque should be blown up – should be blown up.”
During the song, another defendant, Daniel Moshe Piner of Kfar Tapuah, joined the dancing with a shirt bearing the written message “there are no Arabs, there are no attacks” while waving a yellow shirt on which was written the symbol of the outlawed Kach movement.
Next, Tor started singing songs about vengeance on God’s enemies, changing biblical references to the Philistines to Palestine. Several defendants, along with dozens of other attendees, including minors, started dancing while waving pictures of the Dawabshe family and displaying two M-4 rifles, one M-16 rifle, pistols or pistol replicas, Molotov cocktail replicas and knives.
One of the M-4 rifles belonged to IDF soldier Menachem Cohen.
Some of the dancers danced with ski masks covering their faces, and some of them repeatedly stabbed, burned and tore the pictures of the Dawabshes with knives, fire and their bare hands.
Lahav Harkov and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.