Israel will not pay terror victims’ compensation to a Ahmed Dawabsha, a Palestinian boy whose parents and brother were killed in a 2015 arson attack allegedly carried out on their home by Jewish extremists, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told a Knesset member in an official correspondence on the issue.
Writing to Joint (Arab) List MK Yousef Jabareen in response to a question as to why the boy has not yet received money from the state, Liberman said the 6-year-old, who was badly injured in the attack, does not qualify as a “terror victim” and will therefore not receive compensation.
The current law stipulates that the state must compensate Israeli citizens affected by terrorism, but does not apply to Palestinians “who are not citizens or residents of Israel,” Liberman wrote.
In addition, “we have not found in our records a specific request [to receive compensation despite not being considered a terror victim],” the letter added.
In January 2016, then-attorney general Yehuda Weinstein rejected a request from Jabareen for Dawabsha to be recognized as a terror victim. Speaking to The Times of Israel Sunday, Jabareen said the family had not presented a special request for compensation after the rejection, and does not intend to.
“The compensation should be a right, not a gift,” he said. “The state needs to give him full compensation due to the severe incident he has suffered, not as as the result of an unprecedented request.”
Jabareen said the family would now “turn to the courts” in order to seek both recognition and compensation for Dawabsha.
A Defense Ministry official told The Times of Israel that the family had been offered the opportunity to submit a request to an inter-ministerial committee for compensation but decided instead to sue the state.
Two homes in Duma, south of Nablus, were set alight in the July 31 attack, and the Hebrew words “revenge” and “long live the king messiah” were spray-painted on their walls, alongside a Star of David.
In the attack, Ali Dawabsha,18 months old, was burned to death and father Saad Dawabsha, his wife Riham and their son Ahmad, who was 4 at the time, were critically injured. Saad died in August and Riham in September, after treatment in Israeli hospitals. The only surviving member of the family, Ahmed, received months of treatment for severe burns.
Responding to Liberman’s letter, Jabareen accused the defense minister of implementing a racist policy towards Palestinians.
“The defense minister’s position is based on racial discrimination,” Jabareen said in a statement. “If we were talking about Jewish settlers hurt by Palestinians, the victims would automatically receive compensation.”
The letter, seen by The Times of Israel, was dated April 6 but a spokesman for Jabareen said it had been sent in the post and was not seen by the Knesset member until Sunday as the Knesset has been on recess for the past two weeks. On Sunday night, Israel marks its annual Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks.
In December 2015, Yoav Mordechai, the Israel Defense Forces coordinator of activities in the West Bank, denied reports that the Israeli Health Ministry had served the family with a NIS 2 million bill for treatment in Israeli hospitals, according to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an. Mordechai reportedly said that Israel would foot the bill.
Ma’an reported that the family had received a NIS 900,000 bill for medical expenses from the Palestinian Health Ministry, of which NIS 800,000 were for Ahmed’s treatment. Mordechai, also quoted in Ma’an, countered that the Israeli government has officially offered to pick up the NIS 800,000 bill but that the family’s lawyer had turned the offer down.
The attack caused massive outrage in Israel and around the world, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to find the terrorists behind the firebombing and put them on trial.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the right-wing Jewish Home party, has said she favored the death penalty for the terrorists who firebombed the Dawabsha home.
In January 2016, a 21-year-old Israeli Jewish man, Amiram Ben-Uliel, and an unnamed 16-year-old minor were indicted for carrying out the Duma terror attack. Ben-Uliel was indicted for murder; the minor, who is not alleged to have directly participated in the firebombing, was charged as an accomplice.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.