Relatives of firebombed Palestinian family to sue Israel for millions
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Relatives of firebombed Palestinian family to sue Israel for millions

Dawabsha family says state bears 'responsibility' for fatal attack blamed on Jewish terrorists, demands compensation

Ahmed Dawabsha, the sole survivor of a West Bank arson attack in Duma village, is carried by his grandfather Hussein at the Tel HaShomer Hospital in Ramat Gan, Israel on Friday, July 22, 2016 (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Ahmed Dawabsha, the sole survivor of a West Bank arson attack in Duma village, is carried by his grandfather Hussein at the Tel HaShomer Hospital in Ramat Gan, Israel on Friday, July 22, 2016 (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Relatives of Ahmed Dawabsha, a Palestinian boy whose parents and brother were killed in a July 2015 arson attack in their home allegedly carried out by Jewish extremists, will sue the State of Israel for millions of shekels in compensation over its “responsibility” for “the act of murder.”

On Monday, relatives of the family will present a complaint at the Nazareth District Court, demanding millions of shekels from the state, Channel 2 reported Sunday. Prior to filing the complaint, the family will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. at Beit Sokolov in Tel Aviv alongside representatives of the Gaza-based Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights.

Al-Mezan’s Tawfiq Muhammed told Channel 2 that the decision to file the complaint was based on the view of the family and his group that Israel bears the responsibility for the attack.

“The Dawabsha family lays all the responsibility on the State of Israel for the act of terror in which members of the Dawabsha family were murdered — including the father, mother and son Ali — and also for Ahmed’s injuries. Therefore, we will present a complaint against the state, because we view it as responsible for this act of murder — whether in accordance with international law or the law of the State of Israel,” he said.

Saad and Riham Dawabsha, with baby Ali (Channel 2 screenshot)
Saad and Riham Dawabsha, with baby Ali (Channel 2 screenshot)

Muhammed also blamed Israel’s settlement policies in the West Bank for the attack.

“The occupation neglected these areas for years — [successive] governments supported the illegal establishment of settlements and ignored the unprecedented incitement of Jewish terrorist organizations,” he said. “These governments did not work to apply the law in these areas from which the terrorists set out and burned to death the Dawabsha family. Therefore, the state is primarily responsible for what happened.”

The decision to sue the state came after Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said last month that Israel would not pay terror victims’ compensation to Ahmed Dawabsha, who was gravely wounded in the attack.

Writing to Joint (Arab) List MK Yousef Jabareen in response to a question as to why the boy has not received money from the state, Liberman said Ahmed, now 6, 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.

Israeli Knesset member Youssef T, Jabareen (Facebook)
Knesset member Youssef T. Jabareen (Facebook)

In January 2016, then-attorney general Yehuda Weinstein also rejected a request from Jabareen for Dawabsha to be recognized as a terror victim.

A Defense Ministry official told The Times of Israel last month 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, 2015, 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 Ahmed, who was 4 at the time, were critically injured. Saad died in August and Riham in September, after treatment in Israeli hospitals. Ahmed, the only surviving member of the family, received months of treatment for severe burns.

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 ($557,000) 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 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.

Amiram Ben-Uliel, who was indicted Sunday, January 3, 2016, for murder in the killing of the Dawabsha family in Duma (courtesy)
Amiram Ben-Uliel, who was indicted January 3, 2016, for murder in the killing of the Dawabsha family in Duma (courtesy)

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 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.

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