In the late hours of July 30, 2015, Amiram Ben-Uliel set out for the West Bank village of Duma, armed with a bag full of ingredients for Molotov cocktails, spray-paint cans and other supplies, in order to carry out a pre-dawn attack against Palestinians in revenge for the killing of Israeli Malachy Rosenfeld the month before, the Shin Bet security service revealed on Sunday morning.
Ben-Uliel, 21, admitted his crime to Shin Bet investigators and re-enacted parts of it on December 19, the agency said. That information, however, was kept from the public under a gag order until Sunday when the indictments were filed.
He was a member in an organization called Givonim, a subset of the Hilltop Youth, a group of extremist Jewish activists. The Givonim seek to accomplish their goal of anointing a king over Israel by carrying out a violent coup against the government, and murdering or expelling from Israel all non-Jews, the Shin Bet said in a statement following the indictment of Ben-Uliel and his accomplice on Sunday.
The 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha died in the July 31 attack. His parents, Saad and Riham Dawabsha, were evacuated with severe burns to Tel Hashomer Hospital where they eventually succumbed. His older brother Ahmed Dawabsha, who is still mostly confined to a wheelchair, was recently moved to a rehabilitation ward. The left side of Ahmed’s face was unharmed, but the right bears bright red burn scars from the firebombing. He was only able to take his first steps on December 22, nearly five months after the attack.
Ben-Uliel was supposed to meet another activist, a minor whose name has been withheld, at a cave near the village of Duma, located south of the city of Nablus and close to the Jewish settlements of Alon Moreh and Shilo.
The minor — referred to only by his Hebrew initials, Aleph Aleph — had assisted Ben-Uliel in collecting information about the layout of the village and had helped plan the firebombing attack, the indictment said. On the night, however, the minor did not make it to their meeting place in time, the Shin Bet said.
So at around midnight Ben-Uliel went to Duma to carry out the attack by himself, the security service said, contradicting Palestinian claims made earlier in the investigation that two people were seen fleeing the village soon after the attack. Investigators did not provide an explanation for the discrepancy between the indictment and the eyewitness accounts.
According to the Shin Bet account, Ben-Uliel arrived at the Palestinian village on foot and began searching for a house deep within it. He located two homes and allegedly sat down in the yard of one in order to prepare the firebombs he had brought to be used in the attack.
Once his weapons were prepared, Ben-Uliel spray-painted the words “Revenge” and “The Messiah-King will live” on the walls of the house, the Israel Police said.
“In one of the houses, the Dawabsha family was present at the time of the attack. The second house was empty of people,” police said once a longstanding gag order on the case was lifted.
Ben-Uliel then allegedly lobbed his firebombs into the two houses and fled the scene on foot, bound for his home in Jerusalem.
“As a result of the firebombing, a one-and-a-half-year-old was burned to death, and his mother and father were mortally wounded and later died of their injuries. Another child, a four and a half year old, was severely injured and is today in rehabilitation,” the police said.
Israel Police, the Shin Bet security service and the Central District Attorney’s office opened an investigation into the incident on July 31.
Over the course of the 156-day investigation, hundreds of people were questioned. In the end, Israel filed 36 indictments against Jewish extremists for various levels of connection with the attack, from Ben-Uliel and Aleph Aleph, who were directly involved, to those who were only peripherally connected with the deadly firebombing.
In addition to the Duma terror attack, the suspects were indicted for a variety of other “price tag” hate crime attacks — acts of violence and vandalism against Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel.
Yinon Reuveni, Hanoch Ganiram and three other minors — known by their Hebrew initials Tzadi Bet, Mem Shin and Yud Kuf, respectively — were indicted for an arson attack against Jerusalem’s Dormition Abbey, the burning of a Palestinian taxi in the West Bank village of Yasuf, setting fire to a grain silo in the West Bank village of Akraba, two instances of tire-slashing in the Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa, an assault on a Palestinian shepherd near the West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashahar and other acts of violence against Palestinians.
An additional 23 young Jewish terrorists have been investigated for their roles in some 20 other terror attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel. The 23 men have not yet been charged for their alleged crimes, but may be indicted in the future, the Shin Bet said.