Likud MKs lead call to ease conditions for extremist who killed Palestinian family

Shin Bet chief says Amiram Ben Uliel, serving life sentences for 2015 Duma firebombing, may be moved to religious wing for High Holiday services, but not beyond

Amiram Ben Uliel, convicted of the Duma arson murder in July 2015, in which three members of the Dawabsha family were killed, attends a hearing on his appeal, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, on March 7, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Amiram Ben Uliel, convicted of the Duma arson murder in July 2015, in which three members of the Dawabsha family were killed, attends a hearing on his appeal, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, on March 7, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A group of coalition lawmakers called Wednesday to ease the prison conditions of a right-wing extremist convicted of killing three members of a Palestinian family in an arson attack in 2015.

The 14 Knesset members, more than half from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, made their appeal on behalf of Amiram Ben Uliel to Shin Bet security chief Ronen Bar, claiming he was being held “under the most difficult incarceration conditions in the State of Israel.”

Ben Uliel was sentenced to three life sentences plus 20 years for a deadly firebombing in the West Bank village of Duma in which Riham and Saad Dawabsha were killed along with their 18-month-old son, Ali Saad. Only the couple’s elder son, Ahmed, survived the terror attack, with extensive burns; he was 5 years old at the time.

Ben Uliel was found guilty in 2020 of three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, arson and conspiring to commit a racially motivated crime, as part of a “terrorist act.”

In the letter to Bar, the coalition MKs urged that Ben Uliel be moved out of solitary confinement to a prison wing for religious convicts, considered to have better conditions.

They asked the move remain in effect “for at least” the upcoming Jewish High Holidays, which this year begin Friday at sundown and run through the first week of October.

“His mental condition has recently deteriorated due to the continued isolation and there is great concern about his mental and physical health,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

“There is no justification to treat him with outrageous inequality, as they do not treat security prisoners serving life sentences for brutal acts of murder that way,” they further charged, referring to Palestinian terror convicts.

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

The signatories include Likud lawmakers Nissim Vaturi, Tally Gotliv, Keti Shitrit, Ariel Kallner, Eliyahu Revivo, Etty Atia, Avichay Buaron and Amit Halevy, as well as Limor Son Har-Melech, Zvika Fogel and Yitzhak Kroizer of Otzma Yehudit, Yitzhak Pindrus from United Torah Judaism, Religious Zionism MK Michal Woldiger and Yosef Taieb from Shas.

Next to the MKs’ names at the bottom of the letter was a stamp reading “justice for Amiram.”

Other lawmakers also backed the initiative.

“I did not sign [the letter], but think there is an injustice here,” Religious Zionism MK Zvi Sukkot told the Ynet news site. “I think there is a problem with this conviction.”

Several of the signatories also endorsed a similar letter last month.

The latest appeal was made as Channel 12 news reported that Bar sent a letter Wednesday to Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who heads Otzma Yehudit, saying that Ben Uliel could not be moved to another ward “in light of his expected influence on others.”

“Even after his imprisonment Ben Uliel continued to be in contact with extremist operatives and he serves as a model to be imitated,” Bar was quoted as writing.

Bar noted that though the security service objects to Ben Uliel’s transfer to a different prison wing on a permanent basis, it does not oppose moving him for Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, nor having him attend lessons by rabbis.

The Shin Bet head also said the agency and the Israel Prison Service have recently looked into moving another Jewish prisoner into Ben Uliel’s cell, but the potential candidates “expressed reservations about this and asked not to be placed” there.

Ronen Bar, head of the Shin Bet security agency, speaks at the annual Cyber Week event at Tel Aviv University, on June 27, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Last month at a protest on the matter, a prominent national religious rabbi called for Ben Uliel’s release. The demonstrations have largely focused on the fact that his confession was obtained using what the Shin Bet calls “special measures” — decried as torture by Ben Uliel and by rights groups.

The firebombing of the Dawabsha family, considered one of the most heinous acts of Jewish terror in recent years, led to official promises to crack down on Jewish extremism in the West Bank, though critics say many Jewish terrorists still act with impunity, especially under the current hard-right government.

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