ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 146

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Four convicted on appeal of incitement at infamous 2015 ‘wedding of hate’

Jerusalem District Court rules that the accused as minors were aware they were celebrating the murder of a Palestinian family, and therefore liable to incitement charges

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Far-right Israeli wedding-goers celebrate the killings of the Dawabsha family, brandishing rifles and calling for revenge against Palestinians, December 2015. (screen capture: Channel 10)
Far-right Israeli wedding-goers celebrate the killings of the Dawabsha family, brandishing rifles and calling for revenge against Palestinians, December 2015. (screen capture: Channel 10)

Four participants in what became known as the infamous 2015 “wedding of hate” were convicted Thursday by the Jerusalem District Court of incitement to violence, after the state appealed their 2021 acquittal by a Jerusalem juvenile court.

Widely circulated video footage from the “wedding of hate” showed dozens of far-right guests celebrating by mocking the deadly arson attack on the Palestinian Dawabsha family in the West Bank village of Duma, in which a couple and their baby were burned to death in July 2015.

In the footage, first aired by Channel 10 news, the wedding guests waved guns, knives and a mock Molotov cocktail. One of the attendees had printed a picture of Ali Dawabsha, the 18-month-old who was killed in the firebombing, and waved it in the air and stabbed it with a knife as attendees danced.

In its ruling on Thursday, the Jerusalem District Court found that the four accused, all of whom were minors at the time of the incident, were aware of what had happened in Duma, and understood that the pictures being waved about were of the Dawabsha family members who were murdered, the Maariv news website reported.

The court ruled that they were aware of the incitement they were engaging in, and the possibility that such actions might lead to acts of violence.

A fifth person indicted over the incident, who was 13 at the time of the wedding, was acquitted since it was unclear to what extent he was aware of the murder of the Dawabsha family.

Yakir Ashbel (center), the groom in what came to be known as the ‘hate wedding,’ is brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on December 31, 2015 after being arrested on suspicion of racist incitement at his wedding celebration. (Flash90)

The four people on Thursday were initially acquitted by the Jerusalem juvenile court in 2021, along with one other person, after the judge ruled there was not sufficient evidence to convict them on charges of incitement to terror and violence. The judge determined that the minors’ participation in the dancing could not necessarily be interpreted as support for harming the Dawabsha family, and also noted their age and the fact that some of them were drunk.

In April 2022, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court convicted the groom from the wedding and six guests on charges of incitement to violence and terror.

The right-wing Honenu organization — which represented those indicted for incitement at the wedding — condemned the court’s decision to overturn the appeal on Thursday, saying incitement charges were being selectively enforced.

“Children who committed a stupid prank at a private wedding stand trial and are convicted at the end of a lengthy legal process, while thousands who distribute candy after terrorist attacks and celebrate in mosques when Jews are murdered roam freely among us,” said the organization in a statement to the press following the ruling.

Saad and Riham Dawabsha were killed together with their baby Ali Saad in the firebombing attack in Duma in the northern West Bank. Ali Saad died at the scene, while his parents died from their wounds several days later. Their 4-year-old son Ahmad survived after sustaining second-degree burns on 60% of his body.

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

Right-wing extremist Amiram Ben Uliel was convicted of the attack and the murder of the Dawabsha family in May 2020 and sentenced to three life sentences plus 20 years in prison.

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