State prosecutors admitted Monday to losing the original video of a 2015 wedding in which Jewish right-wing extremists celebrated the murder of an 18-month-old Palestinian baby.
The stunning revelation was made during a Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court hearing for several Jewish suspects accused of hate and racist incitement over their actions at the wedding, which had been caught on video.
The blunder came to light as part of the defense council’s examination of the admissibility of evidence. Court documents showed that the flash drive containing the video of the wedding was no longer with the rest of the evidence, leading prosecutors to admit it had been lost.
Honenu, a group which provides legal aid to far-right Jewish activists, said in a joint statement by the suspects’ defense attorneys that the development could undermine the entire trial and prevent further proceedings.
“To our amazement it became clear during the trial that the original wedding video was lost,” Honenu said. “The loss casts doubt on the ability to prosecute the case.”
The attorneys also said that the Shin Bet security service may have been involved in leaking the video to the public in what they said was an attempt to draw attention away from the handling of suspects in the Palestinian murder case.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, an attorney representing one of the suspects, said in a statement that “over-motivation causes the police and prosecutors to make mistakes. Saving the original recordings is the ABCs of criminal trials.”
He described the police investigation as “one big mishap.”
In a related development, on Sunday the court ordered the State Prosecution to comply with a defense request to provide a list of all similar cases of alleged incitement by Arabs against Jews which were closed without charges being pressed. Defense attorneys are hoping to show discrimination against their Jewish clients who have been brought to trial whereas Arab suspects were not prosecuted under similar circumstances.
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.”
Another son, Ahmed Dawabsha, who was 5 at the time, underwent months of treatment for severe burns sustained in the attack.
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.