Israel Police on Tuesday arrested the groom whose wedding was featured in a video clip showing dozens of far-right guests celebrating the Duma firebombing attack that killed three members of a Palestinian family in July.
Yakir Ashbel was taken in for questioning over his participation in the event, in which wedding-goers danced with guns, knives and a mock Molotov cocktail. Ashbel was brought Wednesday before a court, which decided in principle to release him to house arrest. The police will appeal that ruling on Thursday.
Three other wedding-goers were also arrested Tuesday in connection with the incident, and were questioned for alleged crimes of incitement and illegal handling of firearms. One of them is a serving IDF soldier. Some are also suspected of having violated restraining orders.
One of the suspects arrested Tuesday was Daniel Pinner, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Tapuah, who was seen dancing at the wedding in a T-shirt of the banned Kach movement. He told Channel 2 he was handed a toy weapon, and did not believe he had done anything in breach of the law.
The court ruled Wednesday that Pinner and one of the other suspects be released to house arrest, pending a police appeal.
The investigation is ongoing, police said.
The groom had previously said he was unaware of the revelers’ behavior at the wedding.
“I didn’t even see it. At my wedding I was in the clouds, not on the ground at all,” Ashbel told Channel 10 television last week. He called the footage “shocking,” but insisted that “there were about 600 people at my wedding, and this wasn’t something I agreed to. There were a million people. I don’t control what happens at my wedding. I’m just the groom; I didn’t even pay for the photographer or the singer.”
The footage released last week showed dozens of young Israeli right-wing extremists, said to be linked to the suspected perpetrators of the Dawabsha family murder, celebrating the killing at the wedding of other activists. The images in the clip sparked wide condemnation.
The video, aired by Channel 10, also showed revelers holding and stabbing a photo of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha, who was burned to death in the July 31 firebombing.
The crowd in the video chanted the lyrics of a song which include a verse from Judges 16:28, quoting Samson, blinded in Gaza, saying “let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes” — but changing the word Philistines to Palestine.
The video drew widespread condemnation from across the political spectrum, though some right-wing lawmakers accused security officials of leaking the clip to demonize Jewish extremists being investigated over the Duma firebombing.
Far-right activist Itamar Ben Gvir, attorney for the suspects who participated in the wedding, insisted that the weapons were, for the most part, actually toys or mock guns, Ynet reported. “While it may be a senseless act, there is no criminal offense in such a dance,” he said.
Only one member of the Dawabsha family — Ahmed, now 5 — survived the Duma attack, and remains hospitalized in Israel. The 18-month-old baby Ali was killed on the night of the attack, while parents Riham and Saad succumbed to their injuries in the succeeding weeks.
Adiv Sterman, Judah Ari Gross and Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.