Relative of slain Palestinian family urges end to wave of support for perpetrator

Grandfather of surviving Dawabsha family calls on PM to stop far-right MKs’ ‘campaign of incitement,’ says those backing Amiram Ben Uliel support murder of Palestinians

Hussein Dawabsha, center, grandfather of a Palestinian toddler who was burned to death with his parents at their family home, stands with Knesset members Ayman Odeh, left, and Ahmad Tibi, during the trial of the two Jewish men suspected of carrying out the attack, on June 19, 2018 at a court in the town of Lod. (AFP/AHMAD GHARABLI)
File: Hussein Dawabsha, center, grandfather of a Palestinian toddler who was burned to death with his parents at their family home, stands with Knesset members Ayman Odeh, left, and Ahmad Tibi, during the trial of the two Jewish men suspected of carrying out the attack, on June 19, 2018 at a court in the town of Lod. (AFP/AHMAD GHARABLI)

A relative of three Palestinians slain in a firebomb attack in their home in a West Bank village in 2015 said he expects Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to put an end to a “campaign of incitement” by far-right coalition members — and by the premier’s son — in support of the Jewish terrorist convicted of the killings.

Amiram Ben Uliel is serving three life sentences plus 20 years for the arson attack in Duma eight years ago, in which Riham and Saad Dawabsha were killed along with their 18-month-old son, Ali Saad. Only the couple’s five-year-old son, Ahmed, survived the terror attack, with extensive burns.

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.”

Hussein Dawabsha, the father of Riham and the grandfather of the surviving child Ahmed, told the Israel Hayom daily in a report published Saturday that “anyone who supports the murderer Amiram Ben Uliel is a partner to the crime and is encouraging terror against Palestinians.”

He added that “members of Knesset and the people on the right who support him morally, financially, or otherwise and who want his punishment and prison conditions to be eased — are themselves Amiram Ben Uliel.”

“We must stop this to prevent the next murder,” Dawabsha said.

File: Far-right activists call for the release of Amiram Ben Uliel (pictured in poster), who was convicted of three counts of murder for the 2015 arson attack that killed three members of the Palestinian Dawabsha family, at the entrance to Jerusalem, September 1, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

This week, amid increasingly vocal advocacy by far-right coalition figures and others on Ben Uliel’s behalf, a fundraiser for his release brought in over NIS 1.2 million ($315,000) from a pool of donors that included prominent figures in the West Bank settler movement.

Far-right Otzma Yehudit lawmaker Limor Son Har-Melech, who spoke at the Tuesday event titled “Amiram also deserves justice,” defended the Jewish terrorist and called him a “holy righteous man,” drawing US rebuke.

The son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also appeared to support Ben Uliel on Friday, sharing a social media post that defended the convicted terrorist while attending his father’s speech at United Nations headquarters in New York earlier.

Supporters of Ben Uliel have objected to his verdict primarily because his confession was obtained using what the Shin Bet calls “special measures” — decried as torture by him and by rights groups. He is believed to be one of the first Israeli Jews subject to such an interrogation by the Shin Bet, though the same tactics are widely believed to have been long used against Palestinian suspects.

In remarks on Wednesday, following the backlash, Son Har-Melech doubled down: “Every Jew in the State of Israel needs to be losing sleep knowing that a Jew is sitting in jail only because of a case based on torture,” claimed Har-Melech, whose former spokesman is a suspect in the killing of a Palestinian during a clash between Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the northern West Bank last month.

Dawabsha, in his comments to Israel Hayom, lambasted Son Har-Melech, accusing her of “incitement to terror.”

“I hope the authorities in Israel take steps against her and prosecute her,” he told the daily.

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

Last week, Son Har-Melech was one of 14 coalition lawmakers — more than half of them from Netanyahu’s Likud party — who appealed to Shin Bet security chief Ronen Bar for Ben Uliel’s incarceration conditions to be eased, claiming he was being held “under the most difficult incarceration conditions in the State of Israel.”

Prison officials approved Ben Uliel’s transfer to the “Torah wing” for Rosh Hashanah over the weekend, before moving him back to solitary confinement.

An unnamed senior official in the security establishment told Channel 12 in a report aired on Friday night that these recent campaigns supportive of the Jewish terrorist were a “danger to the security of the State of Israel.”

The campaigns, said the official, are “intended to delegitimize the Shin Bet’s investigations against Jewish terrorism, to deter [the agency] from dealing with Jewish terrorists.”

“We should put an end to this madness,” said the unnamed official.

Meanwhile, two members of the coalition’s ruling Likud party voiced criticism of the campaign.

Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana told Channel 12 Saturday in an interview that the Duma murder was “hideous” and added: “No doubt has arisen for me regarding the identity of the murderer.”

Culture and Sport Minister Miki Zohar tweeted: “The person who murdered an innocent family… should remain in prison until his last day.”

Last year, the Supreme Court rejected Ben Uliel’s appeal of his conviction, writing in a strongly worded ruling, that there was “no doubt” he had committed the “shocking and deeply disturbing” attack on the Palestinian family’s home.

The court said that the decision on Ben Uliel’s appeal was not an easy one to make due to the fact that the confession was extracted using “special measures.”

Ben Uliel and his then-teen accomplice have said that they were subjected to torture during their interrogations.

Before making their ruling, the justices reviewed tapes of the interrogations. According to the court, Ben Uliel was arrested and remained silent for 17 days, until “special measures” were used, after which he confessed.

According to the court, in September 2015, Ben Uliel and his teenage accomplice set out to attack Palestinians in the West Bank village of Duma, apparently as revenge for a terror attack in which a settler was shot earlier that month.

The two agreed to meet on the night of the attack. When the younger accomplice failed to show up on time to the rendez-vous point, Ben-Uliel decided to carry out the attack on his own.

Under cover of darkness, Ben Uliel lobbed homemade explosives into the home of the Dawabsha family, killing the parents and the toddler.

In 2021, the Supreme Court upheld the charges against Ben Uliel’s accomplice, who has not been named due to the fact that he was a minor at the time of the firebomb attack.

The firebombing, considered one of the most brutal 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.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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