Indictments dropped against 5 minors over far-right ‘hate wedding’

Juvenile court judge tosses incitement charges because the attorney general only signed off on them after they were submitted

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Screenshot from a video showing extremist Israeli Jewish wedding-goers celebrating the killing of the Dawabsha family. (screen capture: Channel 10)
Screenshot from a video showing extremist Israeli Jewish wedding-goers celebrating the killing of the Dawabsha family. (screen capture: Channel 10)

The Jerusalem Youth Magistrate’s Court announced Monday it was throwing out charges against five minors accused of celebrating the murder of Palestinians while attending a wedding in December 2015.

Judge Shimon Leibo ruled in favor of tossing the indictments against the teens because they were filed, in October 2016, without the prior approval of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.

Charges of incitement to violence and terror require authorization from the government’s chief legal adviser before they are submitted, and Mandelblit only signed off on the indictments after they were filed, Leibo wrote.

However, the justice said that he would not prevent the Attorney General’s Office from refiling the indictments, so long as no other legal boundaries are crossed.

Footage from what was dubbed the “hate wedding” featured friends of the accused assailants in the deadly July 2015 firebomb attack on the home of the Dawabshe family in the Palestinian village of Duma.

In the video, published by Channel 10, party-goers can be seen stabbing a photo of 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe, who was burned alive in the attack along with his parents, and waving knives, rifles, pistols and Molotov cocktails. The crowd then chants the words to a song that includes a verse from Judges 16:28, in which Samson says, “Let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” The crowd substitutes “Palestinians” for “Philistines.”

The video drew widespread condemnation 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.

Moshe Polsky of the right-wing legal aid group Honenu, one of the attorneys representing the minors, rejected the implication that the charges were dropped due to a clerical error.

Rather, he told The Times of Israel, the decision proved that the government rushed through the charges because it was more interested in “public relations considerations than legal ones.”

He added that there was a “very good chance” that indictments against eight adult guests at the “hate wedding” would also be dropped for the same reason. However, Polsky declined to speculate on whether charges would be refiled in such a scenario.

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